Bye Bye Butterfly?

gmo butterflyDo you rely on the Non-GMO Project Verified butterfly when making your purchasing decisions? Do you buy food from producers who label their products non-GMO at stores and farmers markets?

 

A bill recently passed by the US House of Representatives would prohibit farms and food producers from labeling their products as non-GMO, pending the creation of a new bureaucracy, which is not yet in existence. HR 1599, officially titled the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, but dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know Act, preempts state’s rights to pass GMO labeling legislation or initiatives. The Act, which is supported by food and biotech industry leaders, also requires farms and food producers to go through a new, complicated approval process in order to let customers know their foods do not contain genetically modified organisms. Presumably, this would eliminate the Project Verified Certification that millions of Americans have grown to trust, as well as place a burden on our local farms who let customers know their foods are non-GMO.

 

HR 1599, SEC. 291B, mandates the creation of a new “certifying agency” which will be tasked with reviewing food producer requests to voluntarily label their foods. Under the new law, a food producer must submit a non genetically engineered food plan to the certifying agent, who will then determine if such plan meets the requirements. This certifying agency, which is not yet in existence, would take some time to set up leaving us without any certification in the meantime.

 

There is nothing more frustrating than industry using the federal government to put additional burdens on America’s small farmers and food producers who wish to voluntarily label foods non GMO foods for their consumers. It is bad enough that HR 1599 eliminates state’s rights to pass GMO labeling, but to further burden farmers and producers by requiring another approval process in order to maintain transparency is going too far!

 

As a consumer, I have come to rely on my relationship with local farmers, and the Project Verified Certification to help guide my purchasing decisions until a federal mandatory labeling law is passed. Not only does HR 1599 move us further from mandatory labeling, but it inserts itself into the farmer/customer relationship, by taking over the definition of what it means to be GMO free, and subjecting farmers to another bureaucracy. Interestingly, farmers whose livestock consumes genetically engineered feed would be allowed to label their products non-GMO under this new law.

 

The House of Representatives already passed this bill, and the Senate will consider the DARK Act next month. Now is the time to contact your Senators and tell them to vote NO on keeping American’s in the DARK.

 

Jenny Easley

President GMO Free Idaho