Tell USDA We Need Honest, Informative GE / GMO Labeling

As the deadline approaches for regulations on labeling genetically engineered (GE or GMO —genetically modified organism) food, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed a rule that fails in every important respect:

  • It allows information to be conveyed by QR codes, whose use requires a cell phone (with camera function) and a reliable broadband connection.
  • It allows GE food to be identified as “bioengineered” OR by a smiley-faced symbol containing the letters “be.”
  • It does not cover highly processed GE foods, like vegetable oils or sugar, and does not include newer genetic engineering techniques, such as CRISPR (a gene editing tool).
  • Implementation is delayed.

USDA is accepting comments through Regulations.gov. For quick copy and paste, use the text below to comment at Regulations.gov. Add a personal message at the beginning about why this is important to you, if possible.
Suggested Comments:

As a consumer, I have a right to know whether my food is produced using genetic engineering. As USDA finalizes labeling regulations, please ensure that labels are honest, transparent, and informative by adopting the following policies:

  1. Reject package labeling with unreliable “QR codes” and other discriminatory communication methods; such options discriminate against more than 100 million Americans — especially many in rural communities, as well as low-income, people of color, and elderly populations that tend disproportionately to lack access to these technologies.
  2. Require labeling to use only common, well-established labeling terms, such as GE or GMO. Do not allow these to be replaced with the term “bioengineered,” or the entirely unfamiliar acronym “be.”
  3. Require neutral symbols: The disclosure law permits the use of symbols instead of text, but the proposed symbol — which conveys a blatant bias with its “smiley face” sun — should be prohibited, and only the acronym “GE” or “GMO” should be allowed as shorthand.
  4. Require all foods produced with genetic engineering — including highly processed oils and sugars — to be labeled.
  5. Include new and future methods of genetic engineering, such as gene editing (including CRISPR).
  6. Require companies to use GMO content labels by January 1, 2020, and reject the proposed delay until 2022.
  7. Ensure harmonization with the European Union by requiring disclosure if unintended GE contamination exceeds the current level of detection.

Thank you for your consideration of these comments.

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