A raging debate is playing out in Washington, D.C., over the safety of genetically engineered foods and consumers’ right to choose them — or not.
On one side, Goliath — the federal government, Big Grocers, biotech firms and large corporate farms, who say GE foods are not only safe, but allow growers to produce bigger yields with more nutritional value while lessening stress on the environment.
On the other side, David — health conscious consumers, organic farmers, and public interest groups, who generally oppose industrial agricultural practices, and in particular, the genetically engineering of America’s food supply. They believe people should have the right to know what is in their food, how it’s grown, and if it’s safe, so they can make informed decisions.
At the center of the debate is a bill working its way through the U.S. House of Representatives that seeks to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, that defines which foods can be labeled “natural” and “organic.”
If passed, opponents of H.R. 1599, known as the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, say that it will prevent consumers from knowing if the food they are eating has been genetically engineered or contains GE ingredients.
The bill will also block the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and individual states from passing tougher labeling laws for GE and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas) sponsored the bill. The congressman’s office did not respond to EmpowHER for comment. However, in a Congressional press release, Rep. Pompeo said that H.R. 1599 “will create a national voluntary standard for labeling food” in which genetically engineered products are not required to be labeled as such.
The legislation will “ensure that America’s farmers will continue to be able to innovate and improve the quality and quantity of their crops and provide nutritious, affordable food on families’ tables both here and across the world,” the press release said.