Letter to Congress: Experts Urged House to Reject Mandatory GMO Labeling Bill

In advance of a House vote today concerning mandatory GMO labeling, myself and other policy experts on biotechnology, consumer, and agricultural policy sent a letter to lawmakers explaining the problems with that plan:

The House is expected to vote this week on the Senate’s mandatory GMO labeling legislation, and may do so without even allowing any amendments, despite the House having already passed its own GMO bill that created a voluntary labeling system.

A group of free-market GMO experts released the following statement today regarding the House possibly rubberstamping the Senate GMO bill:

“The House is about to completely ignore its voluntary labeling bill that it passed last year with bipartisan support and cave to a poorly considered Senate bill that was developed behind closed doors.

“As the House considers this Senate legislation—which it shouldn’t be doing in the first place—it should bear in mind that the House Republican leadership’s regulatory reform report that is part of its policy project titled ‘A Better Way’ expressly identifies the House GMO bill as the solution to the mandatory labeling fight. Here’s a key passage from the report:

Agricultural biotechnology is one of the important tools available to producers to cope with an increasing world population and increasing production risks in the 21st century. Despite the need for this technology, a vocal minority of citizens are creating doubt in the minds of many consumers and policymakers through misinformation about the safety of genetically engineered inputs. This misinformation is influencing policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels and could threaten our farmers’ ability to feed an ever-growing population and increase the cost of food for consumers.

“How in the world could legislators support such a statement in a report and then pass a Senate bill that would undermine agricultural biotechnology exactly as described?

“The report also discusses the need for sound science in regulations. Yet, the House would be passing a law requiring regulation running counter to the science. Passing such a mandatory labeling law would seem to severely undermine the House Republican leadership’s regulatory reform plan and the entire ‘A Better Way’ project.

“Many possible solutions exist short of going down this road of misleading consumers, ignoring science, violating principles of free speech and doing incredible harm to this critical technology that will help feed the world.  The House identified one solution, voluntary labeling, yet the Senate chose the most radical, anti-free market approach of creating a federal mandate.  The House shouldn’t follow suit.  Once the federal government imposes mandatory GMO labeling, there’s no going back.

“The House shouldn’t rush to pass a law just to get something passed, especially something that is both harmful and completely different than what the House passed a year ago.  This entire issue is too important to not get this done right.


Contributed By:

Daren Bakst
Research Fellow in Agricultural Policy
The Heritage Foundation

Gregory Conko
Executive Director and Senior Fellow
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Julie Gunlock
Director, COA Program and Senior Fellow
Independent Women's Forum

Todd Myers
Director, Center for the Environment
Washington Policy Center

Jeff Stier
Senior Fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research
Director, Risk Analysis Division

Henry I. Miller, M.D.
Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy & Public Policy
Hoover Institution, Stanford University