Leading Consumer Group Asks Obama to Honor Campaign Pledge to Label GMOs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 13, 2015
CONTACT: Organic Consumers Association: Katherine Paul, 207-653-3090, firstname.lastname@example.org
FINLAND, Minn. – The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) today called on President Obama to veto any federal bill, including any version of H.R. 1599 which was recently passed by the U.S. House, that would preempt state or federal laws requiring labels on foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
“President Obama is on record promising Americans he would make GMO labeling a priority,” said OCA International Director, Ronnie Cummins. “He also issued an Executive Order in which he said that it was his Administration’s general policy that state laws not be preempted.
“H.R. 1599, recently passed by the House, contradicts President Obama’s promise and his Executive Order on state preemption. We ask him to pledge today to veto H.R. 1599, or any version of it, sent to him by the U.S. Senate,” Cummins said.
In a campaign speech in 2007, in Iowa, President Obama said, “Here’s what I’ll do as President . . . . We’ll let folks know whether their food has been genetically modified, because Americans should know what they’re buying.”
In 2009, President Obama issued an Executive Order to heads of executive departments and agencies stating that “preemption of State law by executive departments and agencies should be undertaken only with full consideration of the legitimate prerogatives of the States and with a sufficient legal basis for preemption.”
H.R. 1599 has been dubbed the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act by its opponents. The bill sanctions corporate deceit by guaranteeing the legal right of food manufacturers to withhold the fact that their products contain GMOs. In place of requiring food manufacturers to disclose this information—information that these same companies are required to disclose under labeling laws enacted in 64 other countries—H.R. 1599 creates a government-run, voluntary non-GMO labeling program that places the burden of labeling on producers of non-GMO products.
According to a report from Open Secrets, a project of the Center for Responsive Politics, the 275 members of the U.S. House who voted in favor of H.R. 1599 received $29.9 million in contributions from the agribusiness and food industries in the 2014 cycle.
Contrary to what the bill’s proponents claim, it does nothing to ensure that the 90 percent of consumers who want GMO foods labeled will ever actually have this information.
“H.R. 1599 was sold to Congress on the basis of unfounded claims that mandatory labeling will raise food costs, that state GMO labeling laws will create a ‘messy patchwork’ of regulations creating a financial burden for food manufacturers, and that there is scientific consensus that GMOs are safe. All of these claims have been proven false, over and over, by legitimate economists, scientists and journalists,” Cummins said.
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The Organic Consumers Fund is a 501(c)4 allied organization of the Organic Consumers Association, focused on grassroots lobbying and legislative action.