Statement from Gary Hirshberg on USDA Plan to Create Voluntary Certification System

For Immediate Release: May 14, 2015

WASHINGTON- The following is a statement from Gary Hirshberg, chairman of the Just Label It campaign and chairman and co-founder of Stonyfield Farm, reacting to news that USDA will create a voluntary certification for products that do not contain GMOs:

“The public has a clear, growing interest in GMO-free foods. While this move by the USDA is a small step in the right direction, they are attempting to reinvent a wheel with a flat tire. The fact that the certification program is voluntary means it fails to give consumers what poll after poll shows they want – full transparency as to the presence of GMO’s, and not just the absence.

“Two other things are striking. First, it is bewildering that over 60 nations, including nearly all of our major trading partners, require mandatory labeling and therefore give consumers the right to know and choose whether or not to purchase genetically engineered foods yet we don’t provide American citizens with the same rights and respect. Second, it is noteworthy that the USDA took this action in response to one large food company, yet this Administration has not responded to the over 1.4 million average citizens who signed and submitted a petition to the FDA requesting mandatory labeling.

“Mandatory labeling of GMOs would allow consumers to vote with their dollars and have a say in the type of agriculture they would like to see in this country. We don’t need to codify a voluntary system that is already leading to consumer confusion.”

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