House Republicans are planning to introduce a bill that would create a new government label for foods that are “GMO-Free.”
The bill is an end -run around state efforts to force GMO foods to be labelled as such. The new federal label would be voluntary, said Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), who is introducing the legislation.
“Pompeo says a government-certified label would allow companies that want to advertise their foods as GMO-free to do so, but it would not be mandatory for others. The food industry, which backs Pompeo’s bill, has strongly opposed individual state efforts to require labeling, saying labels would be misleading because GMOs are safe.”
I’m always suspicious when large corporate interests are behind something. Let me explain what is really going on with the new label. Instead of labeling things as “GMO” which would inform customers that the food they are eating has genetically modified ingredients, those companies that choose to will label their product as non-GMO organic. The consumer will still not know if their food is GMO — they will only know if a producer chooses to get the new non-GMO organic label.
The reason for this is because people are afraid of GMOs and a label will hurt the bottom line. The corporate food industry would be the hardest hit if states were to mandate GMO labeling. (Corporate food is big money, Agribusiness spent $126M in 2014 lobbying for influence. Small organic farms don’t have big lobbying dollars.)
I don’t support mandatory food labels, but it’s important to know that this new potential label doesn’t inform the consumer about GMO ingredients and it attempts to block state efforts in the interest of big corporate agribusiness. Know that.
Under Pompeo’s bill, the Agriculture Department would oversee the certification, as it does with organics. But while organic foods must be USDA-certified to carry any organic label on a package, the USDA non-GMO certification would not be required for every food that bills itself as non-GMO. The idea is that the USDA-certified non-GMO foods would have a special government label that companies could use to market their foods. The bill also steps up FDA review of genetically modified foods.
Pompeo said “We’re perfectly happy to have folks to understand if there’s GMOs or not in their food,” Pompeo said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It is simply not the case that you can have affordable food that is safe and 1,000 different rules.”
But according to AP, Pompeo’s bill would override the state mandate for GMOs to be labelled.