NCG Opposes Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act

Mar 26, 2015

National Co+op Grocers (NCG) today expresses its strong opposition to The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which codifies the current system of voluntary labeling of GMO foods and was introduced today in Congress by U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC).

NCG believes in consumers' right to information, including sufficient product labeling, so that they can make their own informed food choices. Given the high consumer interest in GMOs and support for GMO labeling – and the potential for GMOs to be present in up to 80 percent of packaged products – NCG said it supports federal, mandatory labeling of GMO foods.

Unfortunately, NCG notes, The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act does not protect consumers' rights to information and NCG opposes this bill because it:

  1. Lacks transparency. Since the bill focuses on voluntary labeling and does not mandate that manufacturers inform customers of the presence of GMO ingredients, adopting this bill means that the vast majority of consumers who want to specifically choose or avoid GMOs will still be left in the dark as to whether or not many of the foods they are consuming contain GMOs. In the 14 years since the FDA has allowed companies to voluntarily label foods with GMO labeling, no single company has labeled GMO foods as such. Only mandatory labeling fulfills consumer demand for transparency regarding GMOs.
  2. Undermines public will. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act nullifies the GMO labeling laws already on the books in Vermont, Connecticut and Maine, which passed with strong public support. Furthermore, the bill preempts states by blocking any future state legislation or ballot initiatives that would require GMO labeling.
  3. Creates potential for consumer confusion. By requiring the FDA to define natural, this voluntary GMO labeling bill confuses the issue of GMO labeling with the issue of defining natural, thereby creating confusion between the two, and could result in a definition of “natural” that includes GMOs.

“Many other organizations which oppose The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act refer to it as the DARK (‘Denying Americans the Right-to-Know’) Act, and we agree that this bill would deny Americans the right to know whether GMOs are present in their food,” said Robynn Shrader, chief executive officer for NCG. “The bill essentially codifies the status quo with a voluntary-only labeling system, and overall prevents consumers from easily making informed purchasing decisions in the grocery aisle.”

“We urge Congress not to support this bill, but instead pass The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act (H.R. 913S. 511), which has already been submitted this session and is the only federal bill that would require GMOs to be labeled,” Shrader added.

GMO Labeling Even More Critical in Light of New WHO Report on Glyphosate

On Friday, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) issued a new report determining the herbicide glyphosate a “probable human carcinogen” with the potential to cause cancer in humans.

Most GMO crops on the market are engineered to withstand heavy applications of glyphosate, and as a result glyphosate applications have increased by at least 527 million pounds since 1996. Today, researchers repeatedly find glyphosate traces in air, water and food.

“IARC’s most recent findings bring to light more questions about the connection between GMOs and increased herbicide use, underscoring our right to know what’s in our food,” Shrader said. “And considering that more than 90% of consumers support labeling GMO foods, we cannot have legislation like The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act move us further away from mandatory labeling.”

About NCG

National Co+op Grocers (NCG), founded in 1999, is a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops located throughout the United States. NCG helps unify food co-ops in order to optimize operational and marketing resources, strengthen purchasing power, and ultimately offer more value to natural food co-op owners and shoppers everywhere. Our 143 member and associate co-ops operate more than 190 storefronts in 38 states with combined annual sales over $1.7 billion. NCG is a winner of the dotCoop Global Awards for Cooperative Excellence and a Certified B Corporation. Find a map of NCG member and associate co-ops. To learn more about co-ops, visit www.strongertogether.coop.

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Media inquiries may be directed to Eric Davis (eric@harvest-pr.com; 612-424-7545).