This week, I received a note from my local Congressman’s office. His team wanted to make sure that I’d seen it. To try to put into words my gratitude for this man will be tough. He’s been a leader on this issue for years.
Congressman Jared Polis sent the following letter to his constituents about the recent GMO labeling bill passed through both houses of Congress despite massive public opposition. Thank you, Congressman Polis, for what you do for American families and children.
Last Friday, I was disappointed to see President Obama sign a bill that overturns food labeling laws in Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont for genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The standard set this by this new federal law will actually provide consumers with less information than the state laws it supersedes.
While this Monsanto-backed bill was packaged as a “reasonable” way to label GMOs, it actually infringes on states’ rights by preempting local laws and allows corporations to disclose information using QR codes—an inaccessible technology. I offered a “truth in advertising” amendment to reflect the spirit of a prior version of the bill by renaming it the Denying Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, since all this legislation does is keep Americans in the dark.
GMO labeling is about transparency, but this bill undermines that concept by allowing QR codes or digital web links to be an approved means of disclosing whether a product contains GMOs.
For approximately 1/3 of the American public who don’t own a smartphone, or the many Americans living in rural areas without reception in their grocery store, the QR code is not an effective method of disclosure. Having a smartphone should not be a prerequisite to obtaining information about what ingredients are in the food you eat. Consumers deserve what they expect: information conveyed in clear text, or a widely recognizable symbol. QR codes and web links are just not an adequate solution.
The labeling conversation centers on consumer access to information. From consumers who applaud the cutting-edge science behind GMOs, to those who might have environmental, ethical, or health concerns with their development, there should be clearly labeled products for everyone. That’s what a free market is all about. But a free market depends on accessible information. Consumers deserve to know what’s in their food, plain and simple.
Despite the passage of this bad bill, I am committed to working in Congress to defend your right to know what’s in your food.