The Grocery Manufacturers Association issued a statement in response to Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin’s signing into law last week of HB 112, a bill that would require mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients in the state of Vermont. In addition, GMA announced it would seek to file suit to overturn the new law.
“Today, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law HB 112, a bill that is critically flawed and not in the best interests of consumers. It sets the nation on a costly and misguided path toward a 50-state patchwork of GMO labeling policies that will do nothing to advance the safety of consumers.
“GM crops are safe and have important benefits for people and our planet. They use less water and fewer pesticides, reduce crop prices by 15-30 percent and can help us feed a growing global population of seven billion people. The FDA, World Health Organization, American Medical Association and U.S. National Academy of Science have all found that foods and beverages that contain GM ingredients are safe and materially no different than conventionally produced products.
“Consumers who prefer to avoid GM ingredients have the option to choose from an array of products already in the marketplace labeled ‘certified organic.’ The government therefore has no compelling interest in warning consumers about foods containing GM ingredients, making this law’s legality suspect at best. In light of this fact, in the coming weeks GMA will file suit in federal court against the state of Vermont to overturn the law.
“We encourage policymakers in Vermont and across the nation to support alternative legislation that would ensure that food labels are accurate and consistent for consumers. Bipartisan federal legislation, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, HR 4432, would require a label on foods containing GM ingredients if the FDA – our nation’s foremost food safety authority – determines there is a health or safety risk. Any labeling of GM ingredients would therefore be based on science, not fear or the varying politics of the 50 states. Specifically, HR 4432 would:
Eliminate Confusion: Remove the confusion and uncertainty of a 50-state patchwork of GMO safety and labeling laws and affirm the FDA as the nation’s authority for the use and labeling of genetically modified food ingredients.
Advance Food Safety: Require the FDA to conduct a safety review of all new GMO traits before they are introduced into commerce. FDA will be empowered to mandate the labeling of GMO food ingredients if the agency determines there is a health, safety or nutrition issue with an ingredient derived from a GMO.
Inform Consumers: The FDA will establish federal standards for companies that want to voluntarily label their product for the absence-of or presence-of GMO food ingredients so that consumers clearly understand their choices in the marketplace.
Provide Consistency: The FDA will define the term “natural” for its use on food and beverage products so that food and beverage companies and consumers have a consistent legal framework that will guide food labels and inform consumer choice.”