Hawai’i is on the wrong track in trying to require state-level labeling of food products to indicate if any ingredients were derived from plants produced with genetic engineering, according to the state’s attorney general. The bill runs afoul of federal law and policy and would “very likely be found unconstitutional” if challenged in court, the opinion said.
“There is no basis in fact or in the federal misbranding laws to require what would amount to a GMO ‘warning’ label,” said an opinion approved by Attorney General David M. Louie. The bill has passed the House and is pending in the Senate. The legislature failed to state “any purpose at all” for the bill, which makes it almost impossible to defend in federal court, he warned. The opinion added that food labeling is basically preempted by the FDA, which specifically opposes mandatory GMO labeling. Precedent from other cases shows that the bill would likely fail in the courts, the opinion added.
“Any state effort (regardless of how well-intentioned) to require labeling that is inconsistent with federal law, particularly where the veracity and relevance of the information sought to be mandated remain a matter of contention at the federal level, will be met with great skepticism in federal court,” Louie warned. Read the letter here.
The Council for Biotechnology Information was part of a large coalition of California family farmers, doctors, scientists, food producers, grocers, small business and taxpayer groups that was formed to defeat Proposition 37. We opposed Prop 37 because this poorly-written measure would have mandated that misleading and confusing information be provided to consumers. In addition, it would have unnecessarily increased food costs for California consumers and would have spawned frivolous lawsuits against farmers, grocers and food companies.
California voters have rejected this poorly written and costly measure. In doing so, they expressed their support for science and reason-based policy. Prop 37 was a poorly-written mandate, aimed at disparaging one production method in favor of others. The voters were right to reject it.
We continue to support the FDA’s food labeling policy, which is that labeling should be used to indicate “any significant differences in the food itself.” The FDA says it has no information to indicate that bioengineered food crops are different “in any meaningful or material way” from their conventionally produced counterparts.
The industry will continue to move forward with developing innovations to feed and fuel the world.
When considering its version of the Farm Bill, the US House of Representatives should oppose measures that would require labels for foods containing biotech ingredients, North Dakota State Senator Terry Wanzek wrote in an editorial featured in Truth about Trade & Technology.
He pointed out that labeling regulations for genetically modified (GM) foods would lead to higher food costs and added confusion while offering virtually no benefits to consumers.
“The labels wouldn’t make food safer because biotech ingredients are already 100-percent safe, as the federal government and groups ranging from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to the American Medical Association have determined. The labels simply would convey information that consumers don’t need, while also making our grocery-store bills rise.” Read more.
The American Medical Association adopted a formal statement this week explicitly opposing the mandatory labeling of genetically modified (GM) foods.
The AMA also adopted a report reaffirming that there is no evidence to suggest that the genetic modification process presents any unique safety issues.
In the words of the AMA statement: “Our AMA believes that as of June 2012, there is no scientific justification for special labeling of bioengineered foods, as a class, and that voluntary labeling is without value unless it is accompanied by focused consumer education.”
The AMA report is consistent with the findings of a majority of respected scientists, medical professionals and health experts, including a 1987 National Academy of Sciences white paper that concluded there is no evidence that genetically modified foods pose any health risks. The AMA’s report also reaffirms the council’s policy recommendation in a December 2000 report stating “there is no scientific justification for special labeling of genetically modified foods.”
Labeling foods containing genetically modified (GM) ingredients could mislead consumers, since there is no evidence indicating the technology is unsafe, biotechnology expert Peggy Lemaux said in an interview with NPR.
Peggy Lemaux, a cooperative extension specialist at the University of California in Berkley who manages an informational website on biotechnology, points out that if mandates on labeling are implemented, it may actually make it more difficult for consumers to make sense of products’ labels and determine what’s really in their food. Furthermore, mandates could extend so far as to forbid even some whole foods from being labeled as “natural.” READ MORE »