Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Trump Administration Sued Over GMO Food Labeling

Food
Trump Administration Sued Over GMO Food Labeling

Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a federal lawsuit Sunday against the Trump administration for its failure to comply with the 2016 federal law on the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food.

Sec. of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are charged with implementing the new labeling rules, and part of that process is a study on "electronic and digital disclosures" (like QR codes) for GE foods, as opposed to on-package text. That study was required to be finished by July 2017, with an opportunity for public participation, but USDA never completed the study or published it for public comment.


"Because this is a controversial topic and crucial decision, Congress required this QR code study be completed by July and that the public's views be included. In court, statutory directives matter—not tweets. We won't let the Trump Administration get away with ignoring the law," said George Kimbrell, legal director for CFS.

The federal GE food law requires USDA to establish federal standards for labeling by July 2018. The withheld study will inform the agency's ultimate decision, which is why it was required to be completed a year earlier. One of the most controversial aspects of the law is how it will require companies to label GE foods, and whether companies will be able to forgo clear, on-package labeling through the use of QR codes and other digital disclosures. The new federal law allows USDA to consider several options: on-package text, a GE symbol on packages or "electronic or digital disclosures," which would require shoppers to use a smart phone to scan packages to access a website or call a 1-800 number for every single product to find out if it was produced with genetic engineering. The study is crucial because it will analyze if this type of digital labeling will make the information accessible or not, based on several factors. If USDA concludes, based on the study, that these disclosures will not provide consumers sufficient access, then USDA must require consumers be given alternative options.

"Americans deserve nothing less than clear on-package labeling, the way food has always been labeled," continued Kimbrell. "Allowing companies to hide genetically engineered ingredients behind a website or QR code is discriminatory and unworkable."

In the U.S., there has never been a food labeling requirement met by "QR" codes instead of on-package labeling. Electronic labeling will not provide disclosure to a large portion of Americans, disproportionally affecting minority, low-income and elderly people:

  • Studies show that half of low-income people do not own smartphones.
  • Almost half of rural people do not own smart phones.
  • Minorities make up a disproportionate percentage of low-income and rural Americans.
  • Two-thirds of the elderly do not own smart phones.
  • Overall, only 64 percent of Americans own a smart phone.
  • Few people have ever used a QR code: only 16 percent have ever scanned a QR code and only 3 percent of those people do it regularly.

A shopper would have to scan all of the many items s/he is shopping for on any given shopping trip (which for a family of four could easily amount to more than 50 items). This would be an undue burden on the consumer and greatly impede access to information that is currently required for all other forms of food labeling. On-package labeling is simple, quick and effective. QR codes, websites and 1-800 numbers are not.

With restaurants and supermarkets becoming less viable options during the pandemic, there has been a growth in demand and supply of local food. Baker County Tourism Travel Baker County / Flickr

By Robin Scher

Beyond the questions surrounding the availability, effectiveness and safety of a vaccine, the COVID-19 pandemic has led us to question where our food is coming from and whether we will have enough.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Tearing through the crowded streets of Philadelphia, an electric car and a gas-powered car sought to win a heated race. One that mimicked how cars are actually used. The cars had to stop at stoplights, wait for pedestrians to cross the street, and swerve in and out of the hundreds of horse-drawn buggies. That's right, horse-drawn buggies. Because this race took place in 1908. It wanted to settle once and for all which car was the superior urban vehicle. Although the gas-powered car was more powerful, the electric car was more versatile. As the cars passed over the finish line, the defeat was stunning. The 1908 Studebaker electric car won by 10 minutes. If in 1908, the electric car was clearly the better form of transportation, why don't we drive them now? Today, I'm going to answer that question by diving into the history of electric cars and what I discovered may surprise you.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A technician inspects a bitcoin mining operation at Bitfarms in Saint Hyacinthe, Quebec on March 19, 2018. LARS HAGBERG / AFP via Getty Images

As bitcoin's fortunes and prominence rise, so do concerns about its environmental impact.

Read More Show Less
OR-93 traveled hundreds of miles from Oregon to California. Austin Smith Jr. / Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs / California Department of Fish and Wildlife

An Oregon-born wolf named OR-93 has sparked conservation hopes with a historic journey into California.

Read More Show Less
A plume of exhaust extends from the Mitchell Power Station, a coal-fired power plant built along the Monongahela River, 20 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, on Sept. 24, 2013 in New Eagle, Pennsylvania. The plant, owned by FirstEnergy, was retired the following month. Jeff Swensen / Getty Images

By David Drake and Jeffrey York

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The Big Idea

People often point to plunging natural gas prices as the reason U.S. coal-fired power plants have been shutting down at a faster pace in recent years. However, new research shows two other forces had a much larger effect: federal regulation and a well-funded activist campaign that launched in 2011 with the goal of ending coal power.

Read More Show Less