If it seems like you’ve read this story before, it’s because you have. In 2013, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act. The bi-partisan legislation, if passed, would have required genetically engineered (GE) foods to be clearly labeled so consumers would be able to make informed choices.

That legislation didn’t go anywhere so today, Senator Boxer, Congressman DeFazio and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), along with Food Policy Action co-founder Chef Tom Colicchio, held a press event to introduce the ….. wait for it …. Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act. The “legislation that would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to clearly label genetically engineered (GE) foods so that consumers can make informed choices about what they eat.” The tireless fighters for the public's right to know are pushing forward. 

"The public wants more information about the food they are buying and how it's grown," said Colicchio, owner of Craft Restaurants and co-founder of Food Policy Action. "I applaud Sen. Boxer and Rep. DeFazio for their leadership, and urge their colleagues to join them, and stand up for the 93% of Americans who want to know if their food has been genetically modified."

Joining the Congress members and Chef Colicchio are 120 organizations and businesses that endorse the act. Many food manufacturers are on board, including Amy’s Kitchen, Annie's, Ben and Jerry’s, Clif Bar and Company, Nature’s Path and Stonyfield.

More than 90 percent of Americans surveyed say they want labels on GE foods — also called GMOs for genetically modified organisms — but it’s not easy to get done. Only three states have been able to pass GE/GMO labeling laws, none of which are in effect yet. Connecticut and Maine will only enact their laws if several other states pass similar laws.

Vermont is the only state to pass a law with a date for GMO labeling to go into effect. It’s facing a lawsuit from the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Snack Food Association, the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Association of Manufactures. If the lawsuit doesn't overturn the labeling law, it will almost certainly push back the July 1, 2016 start date.

At this rate, state-by-state labeling laws aren’t looking too promising. A national law seems the only way to make sure that most Americans get what they want. Labeling is already required in 64 countries around the world including all the member nations of the European Union, as well as Russia, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand.

If you’re one of the Americans who want to know if the food you’re eating has been genetically engineered, you can contact your elected officials in Washington. Tell them you want them to pass the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act.

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Senator Boxer introduces Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, again
Two years after introducing a bill that championed the public's right to know what is in their food, a second bill with the same goal in mind is introduced.