WASHINGTON, May 22 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today proposed an amendment to the farm bill that would let Vermont and other states require clear labels on any food or beverage containing ingredients that have been genetically modified.
“All over this country, people are becoming more conscious about the foods they are eating and the foods they are serving to their kids and this is certainly true for genetically engineered foods,” Sanders said. “I believe that when a mother goes to the store and purchases food for her child, she has the right to know what she is feeding her child.”
The Vermont House on May 10 voted 99-42 for legislation calling for labeling food products that contain genetically modified organisms. Opponents raised concerns that the state could be sued by bio-technology or food industries. Sanders’ proposal would make it clear that states have the authority to require the labeling of foods produced using genetically modified organisms or derived from organisms that have been genetically engineered.
“Vermont and other states must be allowed to label GMO foods,” Sanders said. “My provision would protect states from threatened lawsuits.”
Sanders’ measure also would require the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to report to Congress within two years on the percentage of food and beverages in the United States that contain genetically engineered ingredients.
Sixty-four countries around the world already require the labeling of genetically modified foods, including all of the European Union, Russia, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand. In the United States, labels must list more than 3,000 ingredients but the Food and Drug Administration has resisted labels for genetically altered foods.
The Sanders Amendment would make it clear that states may require clear labels that let consumers know what they’re eating. “Monsanto and other major corporations should not get to decide this, the people and their elected representatives should,” Sanders said.
The medical community has raised serious health concerns about genetically engineered food. The American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Association have passed resolutions that support labeling foods with genetically engineered ingredients.