GMO Labeling: A Pivotal Moment

Right now, Congress is debating a proposed law that would block the mandatory labeling of GMO foods at the national and state levels. Many experts anticipate that this bill could pass very quickly.

First introduced by Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS), who named it The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, the bill has also been dubbed the Denying Americans the Right-to-Know, or “DARK,” Act because it would codify, or make official, the current system of voluntary GMO labeling.

For many people, voluntary labeling doesn’t adequately address the call for GMO transparency. Mandatory labeling advocates point out that, in the two decades since GMOs first came on the market, no food manufacturer has ever chosen to voluntarily label their product as containing or produced using GMOs. 

The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling ActSafe and Accurate Food Labeling Act supporters often assert that their bill would prevent a fifty-state patchwork of conflicting GMO labeling laws. However, another bill has already been introduced to Congress that would solve this problem, and also answer consumers’ call for mandatory GMO labeling. Check out the FAQs below for more information about this alternative bill.

National Co+op Grocers (NCG), the organization behind this website, supports mandatory, federally enforced GMO labeling because we believe people have the right to know what’s in their food, and therefore we oppose The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act.

Make Your Voice Heard

If you would like to make your voice heard on The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, calling or emailing your lawmaker is the most effective way to influence his or her vote on the bill. In addition to being effective, contacting Congress is also easy, can be completed in just a few steps, and takes as little as ten minutes depending on how much you want to say. Check out this brief article to find out how to contact Congress. You’ll want to refer to the tracking number listed in the chart on the right. In addition to contacting Congress directly, you can also visit the Just Label It (JLI) campaign website to add your name to their petition to FDA and letters to Congress.

GMO Labeling FAQs 

Who wants GMOs to be labeled?

Surveys consistently show that the majority of Americans, regardless of age, income, education or party affiliation, think GMO foods should be labeled. More than 60 countries around the world already require GMO labeling. In fact, many manufacturers who oppose labeling in the U.S. already label their GMO products overseas.

Will GMO labeling cause food prices to rise?

In the countries where GMOs are required to be labeled, mandatory GMO labeling has not caused an increase in food prices. Manufacturers routinely update labels without raising their prices.

Are GMOs required to feed the world?

Since the introduction of GMO crops twenty years ago, crop yields have risen due to a variety of factors—regardless of whether the crop is genetically modified or not. In other words, GMOs have not been the cause of yield increases. There are more effective ways to feed the growing population. 

What is the connection between herbicides (weed-killers) and GMOs?

Most GMO crops on the market have been engineered to survive being sprayed with herbicides so farmers can spray fields to kill weeds without damaging crops. Weeds that do survive evolve so that they, too, can withstand the herbicide. In 2012, U.S. farmers planted 170 million acres of GMO crops, and the vast majority—154 million—of those acres were planted with crops genetically modified to survive being sprayed by the herbicide glyphosate, which the World Health Organization considers a probable carcinogen. As a result of glyphosate’s overuse, farmers in 27 states have found glyphosate-resistant “superweeds” in their fields. Roughly 61 million acres are now infested with superweeds. These superweeds cannot be controlled with glyphosate, so farmers resort to more toxic herbicides to combat them. Since glyphosate-resistant GMO crops no longer work as well as they did when they were first introduced, biotech companies are creating “second generation” GMOs that are resistant to more toxic pesticides. In 2014, crops resistant to the herbicide 2,4-D were approved for planting, and dicamba-resistant GMO crops will likely be approved in 2015. USDA estimates that these new GMO crops will increase the use of 2,4-D three-to-seven-fold by 2020, and cause a ten-fold increase in dicamba use if GMO crops resistant to that herbicide are approved. 

What is The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act?

The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act is the only federal bill that would require mandatory, federally enforced labeling of GMO foods in accordance with international standards. Like The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, this bill would avoid a fifty-state patchwork of conflicting GMO labeling laws—but rather than tell states that they cannot require GMO labeling, this bill would instead eliminate the need for state-level GMO labeling by requiring GMO foods to be labeled in every state, and enforcing it at the federal level. Additionally, this bill would make it illegal to label foods “natural” if they contain GMOs. NCG supports this bill, and urges Congress to pass it.