As the U.S. Department of Agriculture works to establish a uniform national standard for labeling foods that may be genetically engineered, critics continue to call out the dangers of putting the federal government in charge of the situation. The federal government was first granted this authority in July 2016 when former President Obama signed into law a bill which amended the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish the national standard for labeling GE foods. The bill was hailed as a victory for activists, and a boost for the economy as it would help keep food costs down for low income families. Unfortunately, the bill was neither.
Instead, the bill denied states and localities the right to choose how to label food that has been genetically engineered and gave the power to label the food to a government with well-known close relationships to the biotechnology industry, including Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta and others. Evidence that it was not a wise idea to give the U.S. government authority over labeling genetically engineered crops has already appeared as reports indicate that a large number of crops may be exempt from labeling.
In early May, the Department of Agriculture released a draft rule describing how the labeling law is supposed to be implemented. Between May and July 3, the USDA received 14,008 public comments. The comments indicate that some of the public is concerned about the language used in the rule. “The term bioengineered should not be used. It is both misleading and confusing to consumers. GMO, GE or Genetic Engineering should be used instead,” one commenter writes. “Please make all food items labeled correctly as GMO so consumers know exactly what they are purchasing,” another said.
by Ole Dammegard
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