For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Seth Gladstone – sgladstone@fwwatch.org

Proposed USDA Rule on GMO Labeling Deceptive and Filled with Loopholes

Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

WASHINGTON - “Today, the USDA released its new GMO labeling rule. This rule will help keep consumers in the dark as it is intended. It’s filled with loopholes and would allow manufactures to use digital codes and other technology that make GMO disclosure more difficult for consumers than simple labels.

“The rule refers to GMOs as ‘bioengineered,’ or BE foods. This is a deceptive strategy because most consumers don’t know what that means. The proposed sun and flower-based ‘BE’ labels manufactures could elect to use in their disclosure suggest to consumers the product is natural and sustainable, when genetically engineered foods are anything but.

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“One of the many loopholes, for example, would allow a company that knowingly sells canned GMO sweetcorn to use a label that says ‘may be bioengineered’ because less than 85% of sweetcorn grown is genetically engineered.

“What’s more, the fact that companies can elect to use digital QR codes or text messages is a huge issue, as some people don’t have access to smartphones needed to scan the codes, or access to a good signal while shopping. Additionally, the proposed digital disclosures are a minefield for privacy concerns. Consumers are more interested in ever in knowing how their food was produced, but this proposal would be a big step backwards from commonsense, transparent GMO labeling measures that some states were already adopting. It’s a gift to industry from our now Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who authored the legislation to squash the Vermont GMO labeling law and mandatory labels.”

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