The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) published an “Open Letter” to Sen. Bernie Sanders, and launched a petition asking Sen. Sanders to lead the effort to protect consumers’ right to know about GMOs.
The letter and the petition specifically ask Sen. Sanders to issue a public statement opposing H.R. 1599, passed on July 23 by the U.S. House of Representatives, and to urge fellow Senators to reject any future Senate version of H.R. 1599 that would preempt state or federal mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
“Senator Sanders is in a unique position to draw mass media attention to this anti-consumer, pro-industry legislation, and to persuade fellow members of the U.S. Senate to make certain H.R. 1559, or any bill preempting state or federal mandatory labeling of GMOs, never becomes law in this country,” said Ronnie Cummins, OCA’s international director.
On July 23 (2015), the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1599, a bill written by the biotech and processed food industries that preempts states’ rights to pass laws requiring the mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and would prevent passage of a federal mandatory GMO labeling law.
According to a report from Open Secrets, a project of the Center for Responsive Politics, the 275 members of the U.S. House who voted in favor of H.R. 1599 received $29.9 million in contributions from the agribusiness and food industries in the 2014 cycle.
H.R. 1599 legally sanctions corporate deceit by guaranteeing the legal right of food manufacturers to withhold the fact that their products contain GMOs. In place of requiring food manufacturers to disclose this information—information that these same companies are required to disclose under labeling laws enacted in 64 other countries—H.R. 1599 creates a government-run, voluntary non-GMO labeling program that places the burden of labeling on producers of non-GMO products. Contrary to what the bill’s proponents claim, it does nothing to ensure that the 90 percent of consumers who want GMO foods labeled will ever actually have this information.
“H.R. 1599 was sold to Congress on the basis of unfounded claims that mandatory labeling will raise food costs, that state GMO labeling laws will create a ‘messy patchwork’ of regulations creating a financial burden for food manufacturers, and that there is scientific consensus that GMOs are safe. All of these claims have been proven false, over and over, by legitimate economists, scientists and journalists,” Cummins said. “We call on Sen. Sanders to lead the charge against this unconstitutional bill.”