Organic food and farm groups ask Obama to require GMO food labels

Thu Jan 16, 2014 9:33am EST

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(Reuters) - Four U.S. lawmakers joined with more than 200 food companies, organic farming groups, health and environment organizations and other groups on Thursday to urge President Barack Obama to require manufacturers to label food products that contain genetically engineered ingredients.

The groups delivered a letter to the president dated January 16 reminding Obama of a campaign pledge the groups said he made in 2007 as he campaigned in Iowa to work to label so-called GMO foods.

The issue is hotly contested, with more than 20 states considering laws to mandate labeling of foods made with gene-altered corn, soybeans, sugar beets and other biotech crops. Currently, labeling of such foods is voluntary.

Advocates of labeling say consumers deserve to know if the food they eat contains GMOs. But the makers of biotech crops, and many large food manufacturers have fought against mandatory labeling, arguing that genetically modified crops are not materially different and pose no safety risk, and labeling would mislead consumers.

Among the signatories on Thursday's letter to President Obama are the ice cream company Ben & Jerry's, cereal maker Nature's Path, organic yogurt maker Stonyfield Farms, the Consumer Federation of America and several environmental and health groups.

"We believe there should be a mandatory national labeling system. FDA has a duty to act when the absence of labeling would leave consumers confused about the foods they buy," the groups said in their letter.

Four Democratic members of Congress held a press conference on Thursday to support the call on Obama for mandatory labeling - U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio from Oregon; U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro from Connecticut; U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster from New Hampshire; and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree from Maine.

The move comes as the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents more than 300 food companies, is pushing Congress and the Food and Drug Administration to pre-empt any state labeling mandates in favor of a federal standard for voluntary labeling, and to allow some GMO foods to be labeled "natural."

Most of the biotech crops on the market have been genetically altered to repel pests or tolerate direct spraying of herbicides. Those crops are used in a vast array of food products.

The companies that develop them say the crops are safe, and are backed by many scientific studies. But U.S. government regulators do not independently test GMO crops before approving them for commercialization. And there are also many studies showing links to human and animal health problems, and environmental damage.

Last October, an international coalition of scientists declared there still was no consensus in the global scientific community about the safety of genetically modified crops, which were first commercialized in 1996.

(Editing by Ed Davies)

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Comments (5)
digressor wrote:
Wow. It only took Monsanto one year and some phoney “scientific” reports that they vetted themselves to get this trash grown. it took 5 years and 140 lawsuits to drive farmers by force to use it. 3 more years and everybody had to buy it. Now we have to get 200 companies and farmer, consumer group and concerned Americans just to get them to put a label that costs less than 1\100th of a penny on products that we didn’t want it in in the first place! Bravo Monsanto. You have successfully supplanted every American consumer, farmer, producer, retailer and product manufacturer so you could have a monopoly that benefits no one but you. Well played. Let the body count begin!

Jan 17, 2014 12:28am EST  --  Report as abuse
Badjuggler wrote:
You’ve been badly misinformed, digressor. Every scientific study has found no danger from any genetically improved food. Big Organic has brainwashed you. And while the label you mention is cheap, the research to decide which products get it or not will cost millions and millions added to our grocery bills. There is more to this than some propaganda you’ve been fed about Monsanto. Do some real research before spouting off.

Jan 17, 2014 2:50pm EST  --  Report as abuse
digressor wrote:
Hey , appropriate name. Badjuggler. Pease inform us all of the wonderful perfection. the years and years of testing. The completely known outcomes of all these foods. tell us all about th farmers that haven’t been sued out of existence because their neighbor farms infected their fields and Monsanto was on the scene to sue them. Tell us all about it oh all knowing sir. Please tell us everything’s going to be just fine, but do it without the same scientists that told us smoking was good for us. That lead paint was perfectly safe. That asbestos was just an inert compound that couldn’t possibly harm a human. Do that and I’ll rethink my arguments. Until then retract your statement as irresponsible! Do it publicly as reckless. Admit you know nothing bout the issue at all and then tell us who pays you paycheck!

Jan 17, 2014 9:07pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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