The 2016 federal GMO labeling law was far from perfect; in fact most grassroots environmental, food transparency and pro-organic groups labeled it as the second coming of the DARK Act (or Deny Americans the Right to Know) because of the way it seemingly gave a free pass to Monsanto and other Big Food affiliated corporations.
Despite the disappointment of the bill’s passing, it is still incumbent upon the current administration and government to comply with all of its rules, which include the public’s right to participate in helping to test the potential new digital QR-code based labeling system.
Unfortunately, according to a new lawsuit from healthy food advocates, that process is not taking place as scheduled, and once again consumers are the ones who are losing out.
Trump Administration Under Fire for Lack of Labeling Study
According to this article from the website EcoWatch.com, the Trump Administration is being sued for not conducting the study by the required date of July 2017, which was supposed to serve as a test balloon of sorts for the implementation of the new GMO “labeling” standards for adoption a year later, in July 2018.
The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Food Safety, which detailed the conditions of the law (officially titled the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law) in a press release.
The law requires the study to be undertaken on a digital system of “labeling” based on QR codes and websites, one that the CFS argues is crucial to determine whether it will provide suitable information for customers or not. But the current administration and new Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue have completely ignored their responsibilities.
“Because this is a controversial topic and crucial decision, Congress required this QR code study be completed by July and that the public’s views be included. In court, statutory directives matter—not tweets. We won’t let the Trump Administration get away with ignoring the law,” said George Kimbrell, the legal director for the CFS.
Critics have longed railed against the law for being exclusionary, as many shoppers don’t have smart phones, or enough time to browse websites for each product they buy on shopping trips in a busy and fast-paced world.
Advocates like Kimbrell have continuously pushed for plain English, clearly labeled food packages that state whether a food contains genetically engineered (also known as GMOs or genetically modified organisms) ingredients or not, a right afforded in dozens of countries around the world including most of Europe.
Recently, over 20 Congresspeople released an official statement calling on the Trump Administration to implement tougher and more clear GMO labeling standards.
“Americans deserve nothing less than clear on-package labeling, the way food has always been labeled,” Kimbrell said. “Allowing companies to hide genetically engineered ingredients behind a website or QR code is discriminatory and unworkable.”
The law mandating the likely “solution” of QR codes was decided behind closed doors with extreme industry influence, critics say, and even was passed with the consequence of overturning Vermont’s democratically passed clear-text labeling law.
For more information on the bill and why millions of Americans will likely be excluded from timely and clear information on GMOs in their food (only 64 percent of Americans currently have smartphones including only about half of low-income and rural people according to one study), check out the full article from EcoWatch.com by clicking on this link.