Washington D.C. (December 10, 2014) – Center for Food Safety (CFS) is releasing a background memo to members of the media and interested parties about today’s Congressional hearing on the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods.
Center for Food Safety – a leader of the legal and policy debate over GE foods for 15 years – released the memo to help interested parties understand the context of the hearing. The memo provides background, brief descriptions of witnesses, relevant legislation and history of the subject matter.
The Health subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee will convene this morning at 10:15 in 2123 Rayburn House Office Building. The subcommittee will also discuss competing proposals; H.R. 4432, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014 and H.R. 1699, the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act.
“This is quickly becoming one of the most hotly debated food policy issues across the county and for good reason. In the absence of federal leadership, states have led the way by passing legislation intended to prevent consumer deception and give consumers the right to know,” said Colin O'Neil, director of Government Affairs at Center for Food Safety.
"In the absence of labeling, consumers can be deceived about what’s in the food they are buying. People have a right to know what they are feeding themselves and their families,” said Elizabeth Kucinich, policy director at Center for Food Safety. "'We are what we eat'; we have a right to know what we are eating in order to choose what we are to become."
“States have long been the incubators of critical food policy reforms and yet there are some Representatives that are seeking to preempt the longstanding tradition of state action in this space while at the same time make it more difficult for FDA to address this issue at the national level. We cannot continue to rely on a failed voluntary labeling standard that has been on the books for over a decade and has gone unnoticed because it has been completely ineffective. Congress and FDA should embrace the call by consumers for greater transparency in our food system, not shun it,” added O’Neil.
About Center for Food Safety:
Center for Food Safety has been at the forefront of the policy debate over genetic engineering for a decade and a half. Instrumental in the development of organic standards, CFS provides policy expertise and legal guidance to lawmakers across the country. Center for Food Safety also uses deep legal expertise to use the courts to ensure the safety of our food supply.
In 2011, Center for Food Safety submitted a detailed legal petition to the FDA on behalf of over 650 companies and organizations which provides a blueprint for enacting a federal labeling standard. The petition examines legal standing as well as urgent need. Approximately 1.4 million consumers have written the agency in support of that petition.
Center for Food Safety also works in support of labeling at the state level. CFS helped draft the Vermont labeling law in consultation with state representatives beginning in 2005. CFS has provided legal testimony, resources, and expert advice in numerous states and counties. CFS also co-authored GE food labeling ballot initiatives in California and Washington. In Oregon, Center for Food Safety was lead author of Measure 92, which is currently undergoing a mandatory hand-recount. CFS’s political arm, Center for Food Safety Action Fund, raised over $1 million to support Measure 92 and helped mobilize thousands of volunteers in Oregon and across the country. CFS previously worked with and provided legal and grassroots support to campaigns in Oregon to ban the planting of GE crops in two Oregon counties, and worked with the State Senate to ban GE canola in the Willamette Valley until 2019.