In phenomenal and ground-breaking news, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just announced that it is revoking the registration of the controversial chemical Enlist Duo.
This is a huge set-back for the GMO industry. Enlist Duo is the super-toxic herbicide (a combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D) that is designed to be sprayed on Dow Chemical’s genetically-engineered corn (and soy), widely referred to in the organic industry as Agent Orange Corn. The EPA recognized that the two active ingredients in Enlist Duo could result in greater toxicity to non-target plants, and issued a ruling that may effectively end the threat of Agent Orange Corn.
This is an enormous step forward for public health and safety. But…
… at the very same time, Monsanto, Dow, and their special interest friends have unveiled a new, sneaky approach to hide information about GMOs. Recognizing that the “Deny Americans Right to Know (DARK)” act that they pushed through the U.S. Congress is likely dead in the Senate, they’re offering a “compromise” piece of legislation. It would require GMO labels on food products, but ONLY if they’re hidden in QR codes (which take a smart phone to decipher) on the back of a product.
Worse, this plan would overrule the GMO labeling laws already democratically passed in Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine — and bar future state labeling laws.
Have you ever used a QR code? If you haven’t, you’re not alone. Less than 20% of the U.S. population has ever used one.
The stakes just got even higher, because on November 19, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Aquabounty’s genetically engineered (GE) salmon – the first-ever GE animal to be approved for human consumption. This decision threatens the very survival of our native salmon populations, and could have unknown health impacts on humans.
But if Monsanto and the biotech industry get their way, this legislation would keep us in the dark about salmon – as well as corn, soy, canola, sugar, and maybe soon, wheat.
Have you ever used a “QR code,”? If you haven’t, you’re not alone. Less than 20% of the U.S. population has ever used one.1
Yet some Senators are suggesting putting these QR codes on food products instead of mandatory on-package labeling of genetically engineered foods and to preempt the GE food labeling laws in Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine. But using a QR code is no substitute for clear, simple labels – worse, it’s discriminatory, burdensome, and raises serious privacy concerns.
A QR code is a small square of black and white pixels that you can scan with the camera and a special app on your smartphone to take you to a certain website that the QR code creator has selected.
With fair and effective on-package labeling, you can walk down the grocery aisle, examine the products on the shelves, and pick up each one to quickly find the information you need on the package – simple, fast, and practical. Now imagine that each time you pick up a product you have to pull out your phone, open up an app, wait for the camera to focus on the bar code, wait for a webpage to load (if you can connect to the internet), and then finally read to see if the information you need is there. All that just to find out whether or not a food product contains GMOs, when it could easily be stated on the package in 4 simple words: “Contains genetically engineered ingredients.” It’s a cop out, and they know it.
It gets worse: QR codes aren’t just inconvenient – they are discriminatory.
Only 64 percent of Americans own a smartphone.2 That means that more than a third of all Americans will not be able to use this form of labeling. Moreover, those left out are disproportionately the poor and those living in non-urban areas. According to Pew Research Center, only 50% of low income people in the U.S. own a smartphone and only 52% of people living in rural areas own a smartphone3. Even those who own smartphones are not guaranteed consistent access to the internet.4 At the end of the day, a substantial majority of Americans would be deprived of their right to know if GE labeling were done through QR codes.
QR codes also raise serious questions about the privacy of consumer data. When using QR codes, what data would be exchanged and how might companies be able to use that data? For instance, would a company be able to determine which customers are viewing their products through QR codes? Could they use that data to target consumers through advertising? Would any personal data be exchanged? The government thus far has a poor track record protecting consumer data and curbing the massive marketing machines of the food industry. This system only makes consumers more susceptible to further exploitation and invasion of privacy.
Tell your Senators that QR codes are unjust and impractical! Knowing about the foods you purchase should be the right of everyone, not a luxury available only to those who can afford particular technologies and the capabilities to use them.