To: Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Mark Udall

Tell Senators Warren and Udall: FDA’s Voluntary GMO Labels Are Good for Monsanto, Bad for Consumers!

As a consumer interested in food safety, and one of the 93% of Americans who want mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), I am very disappointed that you are asking the FDA to finalize its 2001 guidance on voluntary labeling of GMOs. I am writing to ask you to abandon your current course and instead support the rights of states to enact mandatory GMO labeling laws and/or support the Boxer bill, S. 809, a federal law that calls for mandatory labeling of GMOs.

Judging from its track record, the FDA is likely to use a final guidance to outlaw the use of non-GMO labels on products that have been tested and certified as GMO-free. Worse yet, the FDA could take away states' rights to pass GMO labeling laws on the basis of its original, and highly controversial, ruling that GMO and non-GMO foods are "substantially equivalent."

Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which have spent millions trying to defeat GMO labeling laws in California and Washington state, have publicly endorsed the FDA's 2001 guidance. That should be proof enough that if the FDA finalizes its guidance on voluntary GMO labels, consumers will be the losers. Please withdraw your request to the FDA and instead support meaningful, mandatory—not voluntary—legislation that protects the interests of consumers, and your constituents, not those of the biotech and food industries.

Why is this important?

Last month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) asked the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to finalize its 2001 guidance on voluntary labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The senators advertised their request as a move intended to benefit consumers. But in fact, a federal voluntary labeling plan plays right into the hands of Monsanto and big food.

Sometimes it's appropriate to contact a senator who doesn't directly represent you, because his or her actions could result in a federal law that could affect all Americans, not just the citizens in one state. This is one of those times. Please tell Senators Warren and Udall that FDA guidance on voluntary GMO labeling would be great for Monsanto and big food, but bad for consumers.

How would finalizing the FDA's 2001 guidance hurt consumers? Worst-case scenario, the biotech and food industries could use the FDA guidance to preempt state laws requiring mandatory labeling of GMOs. Currently, states have the right to enact GMO labeling laws precisely because the FDA has not formally ruled on GMO labeling.

Second, the FDA’s guidance on voluntary GMO labeling could be used to put an end to existing, legitimate voluntary non-GMO labeling efforts. By allowing the FDA, which has previously (and controversially) ruled that GMO and non-GMO foods are “substantially equivalent,” the FDA could rule against non-GMO or GMO-free labels on the basis that they mislead consumers by implying that there’s a difference between GMO and non-GMO foods.

Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, two of the biggest funders of campaigns to defeat state GMO labeling laws, support the FDA’s guidance on voluntary labeling of GMOs. Consumers don't because we know who will benefit from the FDA's rule - big corporations, not us. We need to get Senators Warren and Udall back on our side.