Last Sunday I had an article posted in the Oregonian explaining why the issue of GMO labeling should be handled at the national level. And also why it should be a program to label non-GMO products, one like the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. Below is my opinion piece that was published.
Like many across Oregon, my family watches our spending on everything, especially groceries. I voted no on Measure 92 last year because I was concerned about the impact mandatory, single-state labeling would have on food costs and on my family farm. Even though voters rightly rejected Measure 92, activists continue their crusade to label foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in states across the country. Make no mistake: if they are successful, grocery prices will go up.
One study said these different state food labeling laws could cause a family’s grocery bill to go up by $500 a year. This is something Oregon families cannot afford. Congress—not special interest groups—should set clear, easy-to-follow guidelines for everyone at the national level. Fortunately, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act that was introduced in Congress last month does just that.
Keeping my family’s safety in mind, I have carefully looked at both sides of the debate. The evidence is overwhelming. The world’s leading health and regulatory bodies have all determined GMOs to be safe and nearly 2,000 independent, peer-reviewed studies have found the same.
So should we label GMOs even though they are safe? The fact is that labels in this country are supposed to provide nutritional and safety information. If GMOs are no different nutritionally from conventional crops, it makes no sense to label them, which would just needlessly frighten people, leading them to believe there is a safety issue when there isn’t.
Labeling GMOs is not simply a matter of putting a sticker on a box. It will require extensive adjustments to supply chains and manufacturing techniques for both farmers and food companies. Studies have shown these costs will be passed onto families. I recently read that one in six American families experienced food insecurity in 2014. Tacking on a few hundred dollars to food bills merely to satisfy the political agenda of a few activists is irrational.
State labeling mandates are full of carve outs and exemptions, they are built on emotion and fear. Not to mention, they also vary from state to state, creating even more burden for farmers and the agricultural food industry.
The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act is a sensible solution. Consumers who want to avoid GMOs will be able to do so because the bill creates a GMO-Free certification program. It establishes a national, uniform labeling standard to prevent price hikes and confusion associated with state mandates. It will make sure we have access to the information we need while giving us the peace of mind that our grocery bill aren’t going to skyrocket.
With all the acrimony in Washington, D.C., this bill is a rare demonstration of broad bipartisanship. Thank you Congressman Schrader for your leadership on this issue. I hope the rest of Oregon’s delegation will help pass it into law.