Genetically Modified Food Labeling

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State GMO Labeling Laws:

Constitutionally Questionable

Conference of Western Attorneys General

Park City, Utah

July 23, 2014

John G. Dillard

Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC www.ofwlaw.com

(202) 789-1212 jdillard@ofwlaw.com

Our Global Food Production Challenge

9 500

9 000

8 500

8 000

7 500

7 000

6 500

Population

Global Acreage

18

17

16

15

14

13

6 000

2005 2010 2015 2020 2025 2030 2035 2040 2045 2050

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UN FAO Estimates Global Food Needs Will Increase 70% by 2050

Source: UN FAO, H

IGH

-L

EVEL

E

XPERT

F

ORUM

: H

OW TO

F

EED THE

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OLRLD IN

2050, Rome, Italy

(Oct. 12-13, 2009), available at http://www.fao.org/wsfs/forum2050/wsfs-forum/en/

3

Biotechnology Applications

Herbicide Resistance

Insect resistance

Yield enhancement

Disease resistance

Drought tolerance

Spoilage reduction

Nutraceuticals

John G. Dillard – jdillard@ofwlaw.com

4

Disease Resistance

Rainbow Papaya

GE technology saved

Hawaii’s industry from the papaya ringspot virus

John G. Dillard – jdillard@ofwlaw.com

6

Why not just label it?

NY Times Poll (7/28/2013)

93% of survey respondents support mandatory

GMO labeling

John G. Dillard – jdillard@ofwlaw.com

7

Why not just label it?

NY Times Poll (7/28/2013)

93% of survey respondents support mandatory

GMO labeling

BUT . . .

75% concerned about effect of GMOs in food

37% feared it causes cancer, allergies

26% believe they are toxic

40% believe most fruits, vegetables are GMO

There are serious misconceptions about genetic engineering

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John G. Dillard – jdillard@ofwlaw.com

Why not just label it?

2012 International Food Information Council survey (open-ended)

3% believe biotech foods should be labeled

2% concerned about biotechnology’s effect on food safety

John G. Dillard – jdillard@ofwlaw.com

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Why not just label it?

Mandatory labeling stigmatizes biotechnology

GMO foods are scarce in most countries that require labeling

Not related to health, safety or nutrition

Increased food costs

Food labeling should be a federal issue

Marketplace already offers GMO-free alternatives

John G. Dillard – jdillard@ofwlaw.com

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Constitutional Issues with GMO Labeling

GMO label is “controversial”

Central Hudson test applies

Vermont has not demonstrated a “substantial” state interest

Exemptions undercut necessity of labeling

“Natural” label prohibition is a restriction on commercial speech

Mandates a government viewpoint

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John G. Dillard – jdillard@ofwlaw.com

GMO label is “controversial”

Central Hudson controls commercial speech

Exception: Zauderer – purely factual, uncontroversial disclosures (rational basis)

Labeling compels food manufacturers to use labels to convey an opinion with which they disagree:

Consumers should assign significance to the fact that a product contains an ingredient derived from a genetically engineered plant

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John G. Dillard – jdillard@ofwlaw.com

Vermont has not demonstrated a “substantial” state interest

Labeling does not serve a governmental interest

Satisfying consumer curiosity is not a gov’t interest

Legislative “findings” are based on speculation and conjecture about “unintended consequences,” not concrete facts

Litigation funding mechanism illustrates lack of governmental interest

State acting as pass-through for labeling advocates

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John G. Dillard – jdillard@ofwlaw.com

Exemptions undercut necessity of GMO labeling

Broad exemptions demonstrate that law does not “directly advance” state interest

Alcohol

Food service

Products from animals fed GMO crops

Cheese produced with GMO enzymes

Why does “right to know” vary based on form or location of

GMO consumption?

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John G. Dillard – jdillard@ofwlaw.com

“Natural” label prohibition

Vermont proscribes labeling GMO foods as “natural” or

“words of similar import”

Restrictions of commercial speech fall under Central

Hudson

Exemptions undercut necessity

Restricts “natural” in grocery store, but not restaurants

Singles out biotechnology as not “natural”

Ignores other food production technologies and processes

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John G. Dillard – jdillard@ofwlaw.com

Mandated expression of government viewpoint

GMOs are a hotly contested public issue

Labeling requires food manufacturers to espouse the government’s view

Gov’t is subject to the same scrutiny as contentbased restrictions on speech

John G. Dillard – jdillard@ofwlaw.com

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State GMO Labeling Laws:

Constitutionally Questionable

Conference of Western Attorneys General

Park City, Utah

July 23, 2014

John G. Dillard

Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC www.ofwlaw.com

(202) 789-1212 jdillard@ofwlaw.com

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