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Center for Food Safety Denounces GMA's Coalition to Keep Consumers in the Dark about Genetically Engineered (GE) Foods
February 6th, 2014

Grocery and agrichemical companies join forces to stop the growing power of the food movement

Contact: Abigail Seiler, 202-547-9359, pr@centerforfoodsafety.org

Center for Food Safety (CFS) today strongly criticized the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) for renewing their efforts to block states from mandating the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods.  In an attempt to counter public pressure from the food movement, GMA announced the formation of the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food. The coalition is made up of big food, chemical, and biotechnology lobbying groups.

“These companies spent nearly $70 million in California and Washington State to defeat GE labeling initiatives. They know that the food movement’s power is growing and that labeling is not a matter of if but when. These companies have failed to win over consumers who overwhelmingly support the mandatory labeling of GMOs and now they’re trying to steal away consumer choice in Congress,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for Center for food Safety.

Connecticut and Maine have already passed GE labeling legislation. Alaska passed a bill requiring the labeling of genetically engineered fish and fish products. It is expected that over 30 states will introduce GE labeling laws in the 2014 legislative session and Oregon is already planning a ballot initiative on the issue.

Building on public demand for information, Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Peter DeFazio introduced legislation that would require mandatory labeling of GE foods at the federal level. Despite claiming that it supports a federal standard for labeling, the GMA coalition has not supported the Boxer and DeFazio bills. Instead the coalition is advocating for a voluntary labeling standard that perpetuates consumer confusion in the market place. 

“Voluntary labeling of GE foods is already permitted under the law, but no company has ever chosen to do so because GE foods offer consumers no benefits and only potential risk. Voluntary labeling is an absolutely ineffective policy solution and is not a substitute for mandatory labeling,” said Kimbrell.  “Instead of working together to meet consumer demand, GMA is using its deep pockets to ensure that congress and consumers are misled about their food supply.”

In a 2011 legal petition, Center for Food Safety provided FDA with a blueprint for a federal labeling of genetically engineered foods.  FDA has yet to formally respond to that petition, though the agency has received more than 1.4 million comments supporting the petition and mandatory labeling. Just two weeks ago, over 200 companies and organizations sent a letter to President Obama asking him to fulfill his 2007 campaign promise to label foods made with genetically engineered ingredients.

In addition to blocking states from pursuing mandatory GE labeling, the corporate coalition of lobbyists also seeks to authorize the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to define the word “natural” to include GE products.  This would codify deception in the marketplace. CFS recently submitted a letter to FDA explaining why GE foods cannot be defined as “natural.”

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