GMO Labeling Bill Introduced in Congress

Label ItThe bill has some teeth. The question is whether it has legs. Action Alerts!

The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act was introduced last Wednesday in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) with nine cosponsors in the Senate and twenty-two in the House, would require food manufacturers to clearly label any product that has been genetically engineered or contains genetically engineered ingredients, or else the product would be classified as “misbranded” by the FDA.

Both Boxer and DeFazio have previously sponsored GMO labeling bills, but this is the first labeling bill that has both bicameral and bipartisan support (though the latter is decidedly modest: only one cosponsor in each chamber is a Republican, and both are from Alaska).

The new labeling requirement does not apply to food used in restaurants, or in hospitals or other medical environments. Nor does it apply to food produced using a GE vaccine or a “processing aid” such as yeast. Food manufacturers are protected so long as they have a statement from the grower that the food contains no GMOs.

The bill also protects producers whose food was unintentionally contaminated by GMOs, so long as the contamination did not occur as a result of negligence. Enforcement would be left up to the FDA rather than through civil action.

Both Sen. Boxer and Rep. DeFazio note that the public has been pressuring the government to label GMOs. Sen. Boxer also listed some of the many businesses and organizations that support the GMO labeling bill—including ANH-USA.

Although we are extremely pleased that the legislation has been introduced, at this stage it is unlikely to have enough support in the Senate (much less in the House) to pass. Only about five percent of either chamber has signed on as a cosponsor, and support from the Republicans on this bill is notably weak.

On top of that, many elected officials are in bed with the biotech industry—which, it should go without saying, immediately pushed back against the bill. The very day the bill was introduced, representatives of Monsanto and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), a GM trade group, objected to the bill even while acknowledging they had not actually read it, saying that they oppose GMO labeling on general principle: “Advocates of mandatory GMO labeling are working an agenda to vilify biotechnology and scare consumers away from safe and healthful food products.” Once again Monsanto seems to be saying that it is so proud of its product that it doesn’t want consumers to know they are getting it.

What this means is that your voice is even more important now. Our Action Alert (see below) is aimed at strengthening the bill’s chances, and the more pressure you can put on your legislators, the better. Our sort of grassroots activism is definitely starting to bear fruit—overt opposition from the food industry for a federal labeling standard is weakening, and may even have sparked some preemptive action on their part:

  • Some food companies recently met with the FDA to discuss GMO labeling in a meeting sponsored by the AGree Foundation;
  • Walmart announced that the company would no longer take a lead in opposing GMO labeling efforts; and
  • Whole Foods says that by 2018, all products sold in their stores throughout the US and Canada must be labeled if they contain GMOs.

As heartening as it is to see the food industry beginning to respond to the public’s calls for labeling, it’s extremely important that this also happen at the federal level, especially considering that GM salmon is on the verge of approval. As we reported earlier this year, the FDA released an environmental assessment on AquaBounty’s GM salmon that concluded that the fish would have “no significant” environmental impact—thus pushing “Frankenfish” one step closer to approval. If this happens, it will create a dangerous precedent—in essence, a regulatory approval pathway—for other genetically engineered animals which the biotech industry has waiting on the sidelines.

At the state level, over 65 bills concerning GMOs have been introduced so far in 2013, the majority of them about labeling. None so far has been enacted into law; thirteen of them have been defeated. A few, though, have positive momentum:

  • Alaska already has a law requiring labeling of GMO shellfish and fish, and on March 25 the legislature unanimously approved resolution HJR 5, opposing a petition by AquaBounty Technologies to commercialize GM salmon.
  • Connecticut: Two GMO labeling bills (HB 6519 and HB 6527) passed out of committee by an overwhelming majority. Supporters have until June 5 to get the full legislature to pass them.
  • Maine: LD 718 has more than 120 bipartisan cosponsors. Maine’s legislative session ends on June 13.
  • Vermont: H 112 has over 50 sponsors and the support of Gov. Shumlin (despite opposing the bill last year after Monsanto threatened to sue the state if a GMO-labeling bill passed). The bill has already passed the House Ag Committee.
  • Washington: After an extensive grassroots campaign, ballot initiative I-522 was able to gather 353,331 valid signatures. The initiative will be on the ballot in November 2013.

These various GMO labeling initiatives are especially important in light of a recent report that links glyphosate—the pesticide Roundup, for which the genetically engineered Roundup Ready crops were created so that more and more of the pesticide could be used without damaging the plant—to a wide range of health problems and diseases, including Parkinson’s, infertility, and various cancers.

There’s a family of fifty different enzymes collectively known as Cytochrome P450, which are the detoxification heavy hitters in the human body. According to the report, glyphosate destroys the CYP450 detoxification pathways. Not only is the expanded use of Roundup increasing our exposure to this toxic herbicide; it’s also reducing the body’s ability to detoxify many xenobiotics. It’s a potentially very dangerous double whammy.

When the CYP450 pathways are destroyed, it results in altered gut bacteria and ultimately all the western-related, chronic diseases such as diabetes. If the plants were not genetically altered to withstand such high concentrations of the pesticide, we wouldn’t be exposed to such toxic and health-destroying levels.

Action Alert! Please contact your senators and your representative and tell them to support the Boxer–DeFazio bills.

Take Action

And if you are a resident of Connecticut, Maine, or Vermont, send a message to your legislators in support of the GMO labeling bills pending in your state.

Connecticut Action Alert!

Maine Action Alert!

Vermont Action Alert!


  1. and support from the Republicans on this bill is notably weak. I, as a conservative have a real problem with this “blanket” statement. Why don’t you name everyone who has not gotten on board with this bill. This is exactly the type of bill that conservatives would be for. Just like forcing us to drink water with fluoride in it. I’ve never seen a conservative in favor of that. Be fair and name them so we can take action with them.

  2. This is something, but it does have loopholes. I refuse to shop at Whole Foods or Walmart. Whole Foods really isn’t “whole foods” now is it, if it is selling GM foods? Shame on them! GMO, GE foods, why? It is not sustainable when it causes diseases, illness and death in the people that eat it.
    There is no reason to GE any foods or seeds or anything else. Remember AGENT ORANGE? Roundup is one ingredient short of AGENT ORANGE! Almost everyone that came in contact with Agent Orange are dead, disfigured, sterile. I know Vets that dealt with it. That is not what I want for this country or world. Yes Monsanto has many politicians in it’s pockets, that is too bad, when money means more than life. Greed is a horrible attribute. It is no wonder that diseases have risen dramatically over the years…look at what we are eating and it is GM. How awful. This bill is a good start, but it needs more teeth. Maybe when the lawsuits rise against Monsanto and the government then things will change. Yes to “honest” labeling of GM foods. NO to Monsanto.

  3. The bill should demand labels or warnings if there is ANYTHING GMO in any product or food! This bill is not sufficient. Pump it up. I want to avoid everything that has even a tiny trace of GMO and so do a lot of people with allergies. Please encourage the politicians to make it stronger.

  4. It is imperative we label products that contain GMOs, as they seem to be contributing to allergies and irritable bowel syndrome, among other issues. Thank you.

  5. Consumers have a right to know, just like with mattresses. It’s a key to being able to make informed decisions.

  6. It will probably be a cold day in hell before anything gets passed by congress. In the meantime, I am telling folks to buy whole foods, organic, and exclusively grassfed meats (not fed grains, antibiotics, or hormones). I educate people about which foods to consume in my new cookbook, Primal Cuisine, Cooking for the Paleo Diet.
    Facebook: Primal Cuisine, Cooking for The Paleo Diet.

  7. Why doesn’t someone publicly ask Monsanto why they don’t allow GMO food in their own cafeterias?….They’re “against labeling GMO on principle”….what a joke, they don’t HAVE any principles….Did anyone ever ask them publicly why they should be the only ones who don’t have to label ingredients?…..Aren’t they proud of their product?

  8. ALL WE ARE ASKING IS THAT OUR FOOD IS LABELED….WHAT IS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND THAT!! …..I’M writing and calling my congressman/women and demanding that they support us on this bill!! I ask them how they like it that their mother’s, wives, children are being POISONED??!!

  9. Legs? You want a bill with legs?
    Let’s see. Something like 1/3 of the US economy revolves industrial food totally dependent right now on oil-based fertilizers. This is comprised 5 or 6 major US-based multinational food producers, due to years of US Govt failure to impose anti-trust regulations. then you have 4 or 5 major chemical companies in cahoots with these food producers, pretending to know all about how the soils of this great land work, when all we can figure is they are conducting their private “war on nature” and indirectly effecting human and animal life, by using remnants of chemical warfare developed during and after WWI. And of course Big Oil is indirectly involved with these oil-based pesticides and herbicides, also called xenoestrogens.
    Combined, giant companies are supporting quite a few Congressional members on both sides of the aisle.
    I applaud the efforts being made to bring our choice of toxins to the attention of the millionaires in Congress (as if they did not know and are probably already eating organic foods). The legs bit may be tricky, depending on which of these major multinationals their seats at this highly under-productive gentlemen’s club are beholden to.
    Good luck with this one!

  10. Please consider this bill to have GMOs labelled. Thank you for your consideration and support.

  11. How sad that we, American tax payers, have to beg our elected officials for honesty. If GMO’s are not harmful, why are the producers not proud to have it printed on labels in all caps? Shame on you!

  12. With every country in the world RUNNING AWAY FROM gmo EVEN THE POOREST COUNTRY’S IN AFRICA. IF THIS WAS SUCH A great idea why would the very countries that DESPERATELY NEED TO find a way to increase crops as soon as it can happen ARE RUNNING AWAY from this so fast. If this doesn’t tell you something US SEnate should be able to see this isn’t good for anybody.

  13. whole foods require 8 yrs to clean up their act? I will avoid then and hopefully they will be out of business long before that.

  14. This is a great article and also a great aciton article. I was able to sign a petition and also given the names of my house and senate for Michigan. It should do the same for you too.
    Please sign the petition and also send an e-mail to your representatives to make them sign. I have sent this message to my representatives and I intentionally made the words harsh because I am fed up with their game playing on this issue. Please feel free to copy and paste this to your representatives. If not – don’t be afraid to be harsh because they need to know how important this is to all of us.
    “Now is the time to take a stand with Barbara Boxer and Peter DeFazio and nine cosponsors in the Senate and twenty-two in the House to do the proper thing to protect all Americans from harmful food chemicals.
    This is not a matter of how you personally feel about it, it is however a matter of how all the people of the United States feels towards the forced use of Genetically Modified Organisms in their food supplies.
    No one cares about the lobbyist who spend billions to force this on us by purchasing your support for them over all the people who put you in your position in the first place.
    It is time for you to realize that Monsanto and Bayer are poisoning our food and earth and water supplies. They are also harming our animal livestock by feeding them their poisoned foods and injecting with harmful hormones.
    It is also time for you to realize that none of this is necessary to maintain a healthy food supply for the world.
    We do not need Monsanto or Bayer and if you choose to stand with them, than you stand against America.”

  15. Thanks for encouraging people to continue to communicate with their local politicians in regard to the labeling of (GE) foods. Have a great day!

  16. Consumers here in the US should be able to make informed decisions concerning the food they purchase and consume. Witholding information from the public on any level is extremely intrusive and benefits only industry, not the consumers.
    GMOs do not contribute to the health of the American public and these foods should not be forced on people.

  17. Inch by inch we move a little closer to some broad action for the cause of protecting our food source, if it can be recovered from the amount of contamination that has already occurred. More people must start reading these notifications and then move to take action. No one can afford to sit by idly in this treacherous political era.

  18. RE: Senator Baldwin, Again, I’ve read years of reports on the affects of (GMOs) on people . I can assure you Senator Baldwin that any GMOs are a (Living Nightmare) on people. They change the structure of the human body & the same to animals or fish etc,etc.Monsanto & others are already using these GMOs on seeds on many vegetables & fruit. What is really sad about this is 99% of the people don’t even know they’re eating this POISON. Europe & Canada both (OUTLAWED) any GMOs. This should tell you something about just how safe GMOs are. They say GMOs are safe. Now if this is the case, why do they fight so hard to keep them from (Labeling any GMOs)???
    I think WE both know this answer, it’s (BIG MONEY) & nothing else. Please Senator, think of this statement; This is our health that is involved here. Please look at the BIG picture of why SO many people are so sick & many of don’t realize it til it’s too late. Please Senator, HELP US. John

  19. I send my letter(s) and pointed out that I did indeed vote in yesterday’s primary (here in MA, we lost a senator recently to other good causes and with his seat vacant, we need a new one) and I will be watching the outcome of this and other votes.
    I also pointed out that I am on SSDI, not SSI, and in order to maintain what quality of life I do have, I need to make informed choices about the food I ingest. I also feed (not often enough) a 15 month old granddaughter (and have other grands in far away places) and want them to have a quality of life that surpasses mine.

  20. whatdoes gmo stand for? I am guessing Genetically modified O? If you write in acronyms you should identify them first. Not everyone speaks in acronyms and certainly not everyone knows what you are thinking.

    1. Hi Gary–Thank you for your comment! “GMO” stands for “Genetically Modified Organism.” “GE” stands for “Genetically Engineered.” Best, ANH-USA

    2. GMO? (Read Poison) Monsanto and their cohorts couldn’t hide the test results of hamsters eating only GMO food, having aborted fetuses or horribly disfigured, and there is NO third generation. The FDA and USDA;s top administrative staff are all current or past Monsanto employees. Just like all the other “chemical solutions” in this country (prescription drugs, et al) WE are the guinea pigs to see if they are safe. Just watch the attorney TV ads with the class action suits. People are so ignorant that even if they are told that a side effect is death, they take it anyway. But hey – your corpse will have clear skin and no toe fungus. Isn’t that reassuring?
      There is a clear link going back to the ’70’s between the introduction of GE corn and the “mysterious sudden” spread of diseases in deer and elk herds. Their justification? Won’t need weed killers or pesticides – Again, in past thirty years, it has been proven repeatedly that the development of Super Weeds and Super Bugs requires MORE chemicals in the fields. It is no coincidence that these chemical companies also own the largest pharmaceutical compies in the world. They kill you and in supposedly ‘curing’ you, they get even more profitable. Victimizing the victims – Lowest scumbags on earth. and destroying all the natural cures Mother Nature has always provided us. Monsanto is Evil Incarnate – usibng their army of attorneys to put small farmers out of business and buyinbg up the land for more factory famrs. This is an insidious problem on many levels. One of their most blatant examples of greed ? Trying to ‘patent’ grass. GMWatch is a good site to get caught up on all their nefarious plots. Watch for words like Frankenfoods. (GE Salmon is about to be approved)

  21. GMO labeling is the standard thoughout the developed world and is a vital part of maintaining good health. Adverse health effects have been linked to GMO products, and in the interest of full transparency, any product containing genetically modified components should be labeled. A failure to inform consumers about the food they purchase and consume is a betrayal of public trust, and currently that trust is significantly undermined by the actions and agendas of both corporate and governmental interests.

      1. On the news this morning, they were talking about the increase in childhood food allergies. It seems to have sky rocketed since the early 90s. Seems to me that was when papa Bush opened the doors to GMOs.

  22. GMOs need to be labeled!!!! They are not always safe, but we have no way of knowing this because they are not tested by the FDA or any agency.

  23. I have two senators and a representative that typically do the exact opposite of whatever I ask, but I will try anyway. Seems they are probably in the pocket of some big lobbies.
    We really should know our food supply. I cannot stress this enough to everyone in my earshot and writing. These pesticides and GMOs are having a terrible effect on overall health and wellness. Couple this with the pharmaceutical industry that is booming, and you have billions of dollars at stake.
    It has never been in the best financial interest for politicians to act. So to convince them, we have to persuade them using the human element.
    Senator Soandso, Representative Whatschurname, would you want your children and grandchildren exposed to Roundup and other chemicals? Do you want the ground and groundwater poisoned and want monster superweeds that you cannot kill? Do you want your family battling inflammatory diseases and cancer at unprecedented rates? We need to know what our food supply is and where it comes from so we can make these choices for us, for our kids and grandkids.

  24. The big weakness in this legislation is the FDA. The head of the FDA is an Obama appointee and is not going enforce it.

    1. True. It IS however a wedge, a foot in the door if you will. We are making moves in the right direction, and slowly but surely the right information is going out to the right people. AND the politics and policies are beginning to sway in our favor.

  25. Just wanted to mention that I was in Whole Foods the other day (because even though they allow GMOs, they still are the place where I can get most of my food either allergen-free or GMO free–if you read the labels) and saw that in my store (Madison, WI) they had put up GMO-free verified stickers on all products that are certifiably GMO free!
    I was VERY happy to see this, as it shows that they are listening to the consumer and are trying to clean up their act (even though their act should never have gotten corrupted in the first place! Ahem.).
    It also made me very happy to see that almost all the food that I do buy is already certified to be GMO free.
    We need to speak up and make not only our voices heard but our pocketbooks as well. If we don’t buy the GMO-tainted food and foodstuffs, the companies lose money. It’s as simple as that. More and more people are waking up every day. It is my hope that enough people wake up in time to save our environment as well as our organic food supply.
    Keep making your voices heard!

  26. The FDA is corrupt so you cannot trust what thy say or do. GMO foods must be labeled. More science is coming out showing the big tumors in rats when given GMO food. Contrary to popular belief, GMO’s have not increased food supplies.

  27. The thought of what is actually happening right now really makes me sad… I am actually trying to raise awareness where i live in order to help in the ‘fight’ for labeled GMOs. I am planning on doing an announcement in my class and explaining what they are, how they affect us, and so on and so forth (while maintaing a good view and not being too opposing – they most likely won’t listen to someone who tries to explain this in a frightening way)… I doubt they will change immediately, but I at least want them to know the truth since they don’t!

  28. Some free country this is. While countries in Europe are banning dangerous pesticides and know the danger and ban GMOs, the USA has their legs spread wide open to corruption and idiots in California vote not to have GMOs labeled. Dumb, Dumb Dumb

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