Today, National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) congratulates Vermont as the first state in the U.S. to pass a mandatory GMO labeling bill. In the wake of this victory, NCGA urges Congress to not support the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014 that threatens to deny consumers’ right to know what’s in their food.
Vermont’s Act Relating to the Labeling of Food Produced with Genetic Engineering, which is on its way to being signed into law, requires the mandatory labeling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms starting in July 2016. This sets the Green Mountain State up as the first in the country to pass such a measure with no strings attached. Connecticut and Maine have both passed mandatory GMO labeling laws, but they do not go into effect unless other states also pass such laws.
“This is a proud day for Vermont,” said Kari Bradley, General Manager of NCGA-affiliate Hunger Mountain Cooperative in Montpelier, Vermont. “Accomplishment of this legislation is a testament to the value Vermonters place on good food and our fundamental right to know what we are eating. Our cooperative is deeply appreciative of the efforts of everyone who supported this legislation.”
This bill, which was proposed in 2013, has received overwhelming public support. A number of skeptical lawmakers were met with visible and audible support from their community members, ultimately persuading them to vote yes and pass the initiative. According to several studies, more than 90 percent of Americans want food containing GMOs to be labeled.
Yet, Congress is considering another bill that could deny states like Vermont the right to enact their own GMO labeling laws. U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo introduced The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014 on April 9th, a bill that would codify the existing, inadequate system of voluntary labeling and compel the FDA to define GMOs as natural. The measure, which has the backing of food, biotechnology and agriculture companies, looks to nullify efforts in no less than 20 states to label GMOs.
“We urge Congress not to support this misguided bill, and instead encourage the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act,” said Robynn Shrader, chief executive officer for NCGA. “Vermont’s GMO labeling law is an important step in the movement toward federally mandated GMO labeling, and we hope the Vermont campaign sparks momentum towards food transparency nationwide.”
“Congressman Pompeo is signing away the rights of all Americans to know what they are buying and feeding their families,” said Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs for Center for Food Safety, a partner of NCGA. “This ‘Deny Americans the Right-to-Know,’ or DARK act, is an attack on states’ ability to assure their citizens are informed.”
NCGA has been working for years on a national level to ensure labels provide consumers with information about what is in their food and where it comes from. NCGA partners with Center for Food Safety, Environmental Working Group, and Just Label It—a national coalition of more than 650 organizations which calls for the mandatory, federally enforced labeling of GMOs—on this issue.