[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) released the following statement after the Senate approved legislation that prohibits states like Connecticut from mandating labels on foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and exempts many foods from being labeled as genetically modified:
“My objection to this so-called GMO labeling compromise is simple: it is about giving American families information about what is in the food they put on their dinner table. Nothing is more basic or important than what we eat. But today, instead of rejecting a misguided effort to limit the public’s right to know, the Senate approved a measure that is fundamentally anti-consumer,” Blumenthal said.
“This was a failure of both policy and of process. I am extremely disappointed not to have received a vote on my amendment, which would have preserved state laws like Connecticut’s, and would have also allowed additional states to pass laws that accurately reflect the demands of their constituents. Because, at the end of the day, it should be up to consumers whether they choose to purchase food containing GMOs not food giants or big business. Despite this disappointing vote, I will continue working on efforts to ensure that food labels give consumers clear, concise information about the food that they are buying and feeding their families.”
Yesterday, Blumenthal attended a press conference to express his serious concerns regarding the Senate proposal for the labeling of GMOs, and earlier today, he spoke on the Senate Floor to reiterate his opposition to a measure that “falls far short of what is necessary to really inform consumers, and provide the essential facts that they need to make informed and educated choices about what they and their families eat, what they want to put on their dinner table.”
Video of Senator Blumenthal’s speaking on Senate Floor today is available for download here.
The legislation approved by the Senate today utilizes machine-readable Quick Response (QR) codes in lieu of clear descriptions that people can understand, and includes a definition that could sharply limit the number of GMO products covered by the bill. In addition, according to a plain reading of the bill and the analysis of experts, the measure could exempt many products derived from genetic engineering from labeling requirements.
Blumenthal also objected to the Senate legislation’s preemption of state laws like Connecticut’s that would require the mandatory labeling of GMO foods. On the Senate Floor, Blumenthal shared a letter written by Tara Cook-Littman, the co-founder of Citizens for GMO labeling and a champion of Connecticut’s grassroots labeling efforts.
“My question to the proponents of this bill is: what do we have to fear by providing the kind of information that consumers need and want, and that 15,000 Connecticut citizens have written to me asking to defend, and that constituents of mine, like Cook-Littman, have shown is desperately and dramatically needed? Tara has said, ‘anything short of on-package clear labeling shows total disregard for what it is like to be a mom shopping in a store with her children.’”
Blumenthal has been a leader in the effort to seek clear, accessible labels for GMO products. Last year, Blumenthal introduced the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2015 to empower consumers to make smart eating choices by minimizing confusing and misleading information that consumers encounter on food packages, as well as the Genetically Engineered Right to Know Act, which would require the Food and Drug Administration to clearly label genetically engineered foods so that consumers can make informed choices about what they eat.
Video of Senator Blumenthal’s remarks at the press conference is available for download here.
Photos from yesterday’s press conference are available here.