GMO “Right-To-Know Act” introduced in Senate, House

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Federal legislation was proposed that would require food manufacturers to clearly label any product containing genetically modified organisms (GMO) – or risk having that product classified “misbranded” by the Food and Drug Administration.

Corn DNA Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced the “Genetically Engineered Food Right-To-Know Act” to the Senate and House of Representatives on Wednesday. The bill has nine cosponsors in the Senate and 22 cosponsors in the House.

“Americans have the right to know what is in the food they eat so they can make the best choices for their families,” Boxer said. “This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of consumer groups, businesses, farmers, fishermen and parents who all agree that consumers deserve more – not less – information about the food they buy.”

Debate has raged in recent years over the long-term health and environmental consequences of GMO crops, but experts have generally regarded GMO foods safe. The amount of GMO foods has grown substantially over the past two decades, and many Americans consume food products containing GMOs without knowledge of the ingredients.

“All over this country people are becoming more conscious about the foods they are eating and the foods they are serving to their kids,” says Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), one of the bills cosponsors. “This is certainly true for genetically engineered foods. I believe that when a mother goes to the store and buys food for her child she has the right to know what she is feeding her child.”

Proponents of the legislation note that 64 other countries already require GMO labels on food products.

However, there is strong opposition to GMO labeling in the U.S. Executives from Monsanto Co., DuPont, and Dow Chemical, among the world's largest developers of biotech crops and the chemicals used to help produce them, told Reuters this week they are putting together a campaign aimed at turning the tide on what they acknowledge is a growing public sentiment against GMOs used as ingredients in the nation's food supply.

Last year, the industry spent $40 million to defeat a labeling measure in California. But similar initiatives are underway now in more than 20 states, and the move by the big biotech firms is designed to thwart the spread of such initiatives, which the companies say would confuse consumers and roil the food manufacturing industry.

"Even when we prevail, we lose," said Cathy Enright, executive vice president for food and agriculture for the global Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), which includes Monsanto, DuPont, and Dow Chemical as members.

"To try to oppose this state by state, that is unsustainable," she said

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Az  |  April, 26, 2013 at 09:08 AM

What about laws for the disclosure of "Chemically Engineered" foods. We have beef and pork produced with aggressive implants and beta agonists with residues that are not tolerable or acceptable to many, many countries in the world. With residues of strong adrenergic substances of which impact and acceptable levels are not known or published. Greenies you are "straining at gnats and swallowing camels"

NC  |  April, 26, 2013 at 09:36 AM

GM is a process (one that has been in practice for more than 10 years) -- not a change in the actual food product. When you really look at the research -- and all the factors are included -- you see that many who claim GM foods are unsafe are not telling you the whole story. Check "Safety of Genetically Engineered Food" at There are a lot naysayers about GM foods scaring people and distorting the facts, failing to disclose how this bill could negatively affect the consumer, such as a raise in food prices. Instead of jumping the gun, we should look at all the facts in an unbiased fashion.

April, 26, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Just plain stupid! Our fellow man/woman are more concerned about issues that would play a role in death at the age of 150 versus feeding a growing and starving world population. Here's an idea, if you want your natural food, how about buy your own farm and grow it yourself! I'd love to see how that works out!

IL  |  April, 26, 2013 at 10:43 AM

It's easy to complain on a full stomach. I say if they don't like it let them starve, and see how they like it.

TX  |  April, 26, 2013 at 12:04 PM

In forty years, the world will look back on this generation, review the propaganda that is being spewed today, and wonder just how ignorant we could be. If that makes your pulse quicken, go to the site below and see what was promoted at the first Earth Day in 1970. Today, the few of us that were left should be starving and huddled together existing in a world that has run out of food and has "globally cooled" instead of "globally warmed". Farming practices, productivity, and plant improvement have kept the wolf from the door and yet the politicians of countries populated by people with a "full stomach" disregard science and bow to ideas promoted by experts, not in food safety, but experts in distributing propaganda by social media. If these people were truly concerned they would be more worried about doing whatever was necessary to feed the hungry than practicing eliteism and demanding how their bountiful table was supplied.

Nebraska  |  April, 26, 2013 at 12:18 PM

Let the market decide. Branding sells, every company knows it. Green Giant, DelMonte, Nabisco, Frito Lay etc... So if Monsanto and GMO supporters believe in their product and benefits sell it, be proud and quit fighting labeling. If they don't want to market their product that's fine but don't stop non-gmo processors from markteting their non - gmo product, and certainly don't have the FDA, Congress or any government agency shut down your non gmo competitors.

Montana  |  April, 26, 2013 at 02:29 PM

This labeling bill is exactly what is needed. This does not require Monsanto, DuPont, and Dow to change ANY of their management practices, it just allows consumers to make their own decisions. We label prescroption ingredients, we label insecticide containers, we label food packages, we label restaurant ingredients. None of the businesses which use those labeling methods has gone out of business. Informed consumers use the labels in their purchasing decisions. Those who don't care never read the labels. Personal choice is completely possible, and the GMO companies are free to continue their agricultural practices exactly as they see fit. Choice is key- and the freedom to choose is at the base of American society. Anyone who opposes that freedom in consumers is hiding something IMPORTANT.

TEXAS  |  April, 26, 2013 at 06:04 PM

Thank you, Jenny ! Finally a voice of reason. EVERYONE has the right to determine what is good for themselves. My belief is that all foods should be labeled exactly what they are and WHERE they came from. I am a beef and lamb producer.

San Diego, CA  |  April, 27, 2013 at 10:06 AM

As long as we are clamoring for our divine "right to know" (ie. right to know nothing, right to believe any old thing), I think we should demand a few more critical food labels. Like, what phase of the moon when the food was harvested? Has the food been exposed to any menstruating females? How much of this food is required to sustain 100 angels? 100 zombies? Is this food endorsed by the Tooth Fairy? By Santa Claus? By Al Gore? If the food is an animal product, what was the animal's name, nickname, favorite color, favorite reality TV show, who are it's top 25 'friends' on Facebook? If the food is vegetable, what is the name of the field hand who harvested it and what make and model of car does he/she drive (extra special mention if a Prius!)? Did the farmer sing to the food? What sort of music (bigtime demerits for rap and heavy metal tunes!). Just a few of the absolutely critical facts we MUST "know" in order to properly sustain our vitally important urban myths.

david g ludden    
seattle, wa  |  April, 27, 2013 at 07:22 PM

The contention that, "experts have generally regarded GMO foods safe," is highly subjective. There are very well regarded scientists around the world that have been questioning the efficacy of GMO foods. There are a number of people in agriculture that question, or contradict the sustainability GMO crops (especially in India, though not necessarily as food). There are also more and more voices from Argentina as to probable human collateral damage from allegedly sustainable GMO farming.

John Q. Publc    
Alabama  |  April, 29, 2013 at 02:48 AM

I agree with Martin - Let the Market decide! If Monsanto is so sincere about safety and benefits, then tout thier products! Why fight labeling? That's fighting Truth! It should tell us something. And while you right-wing money-grabbers are saying ''If they don't like GMO let em starve'' - such an IDIOTIC statement- you're not paying attention to the crap tomatoes you're getting now that Never fully ripen and Rot in a sort of sickly half-green state. Poison Malnourished food is as bad or worse than not enough food, and there's Absolutely NO PROOF that GMO crops are more plentiful. They just create monopolies for the patent holders. Mixing insect genes with crop genes into bazarre Franken-Crops is against God AND Science and will ruin our Earth's food supply. WE HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT'S IN OUR FOOD AND CHOOSE FOR OURSELVES. If Monsanto and Dow Chemical are afraid of that, they have something to Hide!

VT  |  April, 29, 2013 at 08:12 AM

John and Martin have a good point. If the companies producing GMOs are confident in their product, then labeling products as having GMOs would be a marketing opportunity for them. It seems that they are not confident in their product.

Indiana  |  April, 29, 2013 at 12:09 PM

I can't help but laugh at all these comments. Bottom line is, there will always be people that need food. And the extremists on either side of the debate will fight for and buy whatever food product they want. No matter what someone believes in, we all still need to eat. And by judging what I see in the grocery store, people will by the cheapest food they can find without even glancing at a nutrition label. And all the big bold lettering on the front of the package attracts some people but not everyone. The few, and I mean VERY FEW that look at labels are also the ones that don't have other worries like bills to pay or where to find a job. Most of America just wants safe affordable food that will sustain them. The activist groups pushing for all the labeling, which personally I don't care either way, all have a larger agenda to end production agriculture in this country anyway. Let the extremists fight it out. I'll go to the store and grab whatever I want or need. No matter what the label says.

Iowa  |  April, 29, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Just assume the foods contain GMOs as the standard. Let the non-GMO gang convince producers and manufacturers to test and label GMO free foods.

nebraska  |  April, 29, 2013 at 03:21 PM

All the fuss about GMO goes out the window as soon as they want anything sweet. Options are 99% of all sugar beets or almost all corn syrup.

SD  |  April, 29, 2013 at 06:53 PM

Behind many of those demands to "just label the GMO food and let the consumer choose" is a well organized cheering section making claims, never proven, just claims, that GMO foods are "Frankenfoods" and other frightening names. Scaring consumers is the name of that game. Why? Go to the now USDA supported 'farmers markets', and other produce stands and look for any verified statements about how that food is produced. Who inspects it? Who inspects the farms to assure they do as they say they do, and never cheat by applying those nasty chemicals the evil conventional ag producers use? Who is more regulated than conventional, large farmers and their land, feedlots, and products??? Still, I love the flavor of 'home grown' food, and living in a harsh climate it is often not possible for me to raise my own, and eagerly buy from those "farmers' markets" when able to travel the distance to them. I'm not particularly worried about the small scale of them here in wide open spaces of SD, but would wonder in areas where people are crammed closely together, just how good their sewage systems are at removing the truly harmful things from our waters, were I at a farmers' market in those conditions.

kansas  |  April, 29, 2013 at 06:55 PM

I'm all for it, as long as it's amended to include "ORGANIC produce is far more likely to be carrying deadly microbes such as listeria, botulism and salmonella than conventionally produced foods." And, "Organic produce is responsible for the single largest incident of bacterial food poisoning in modern history." Oh, and, "The resistance to GMO crops by science deniers and radical extremists in the 1st World environmentalist movement are responsible for the starvations deaths of millions and millions of 3rd World children." "Baby killers" is a phrase the radical Left developed, and now the chickens have come home to roost - baby killers.

Robert Baker    
Wa. State 98022  |  April, 30, 2013 at 05:38 PM

Nobody is saying "Don't produce GMO foods" just saying "label it" OK?

Guymon, OK  |  May, 01, 2013 at 02:03 PM

Labeling GMO's is a problem because there is an assumption in the US that anything labeled is somehow bad for you. There is no scientific evidence GMO's do anything bad for consumers or the environment. Also, labeling costs money. If GMO's have to be labeled, non-GMO's should have to be labeled. Organic's should have to be labeled. Natural's should be labeled. And what exactly defines GMO? What if a cow that made hamburger ate GMO corn? Does that mean the cow is now GMO? What about that cow's manure that is used to fertilize a field of natural non-GMO tomatoes? Are the tomatoes now GMO since they used manure from a cow that ate GMO corn? Where does it stop and who defines it? Just because someone opposes something doesn't mean they have something to hide. There are expenses and other factors that could play a role in the decision to support or oppose a request. It isn't always as simple as either or.

George Walker    
Oklahoma  |  July, 14, 2013 at 08:50 AM

If you don't' realize these GMO crops are causing CANCERS in animals and humans then you aren't watching the reports NOT destroyed by Monsanto. Give these people the right to know there has been a gene spliced into what use to be safe and now we all test positive for Pesticides. If you would take Profits out of your priority then there would be plenty of food to feed the world. Monsanto is about profit not good health. Put yourself on a 100% GMO diet, and watch what happens. My pigs can not reproduce and they had tumors before we had to put them down all from GMO FEED. To say humans don't have the right to know what is GMO and what is not. Isn't right. There is no other way to say it.

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