Gwyneth Paltrow Is Starting a GMO Food Fight With Congress

The actor has taken a stance against a bill preventing GMO food labeling.

Gwyneth Paltrow speaks during a news conference to discuss opposition to H.R. 1599 in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 5. (Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images)

Aug 6, 2015
TakePart editorial fellow Nicole Mormann covers a variety of topics, including social justice, entertainment, and environment.

Gwyneth Paltrow wants Congress to put a label on it—genetically modified food, that is.

The Academy Award winner and her mother, the actor Blythe Danner, went to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to lobby against the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015—better known to its opponents as the Denying Americans the Right to Know, or DARK, Act—which would prevent states from requiring GMO labels. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives in late July.

Paltrow, one of several celebrity supporters of the “Just Label It!” campaign, which is being mounted by a group of organic food companies working to defeat the bill in the Senate, voiced her concerns over buying genetically modified food without prior knowledge.

“Much the way I want to know if my food is farm-raised or wild or if my orange juice is fresh or from concentrate, I also believe I have the right, and we as Americans all have the right, to know what’s in our food,” she said at an event marking the delivery of a petition with 200,000 signatures asking President Obama to veto the bill.

While Paltrow is known for her dedication to healthy living and eating—she launched the lifestyle and healthy eating newsletter Goop and has written several cookbooks—she said that her concerns are rooted in being a parent.

“I’m not here as an expert. I’m here as a mother, an American mother, that honestly believes I have the right to know what’s in the food I feed my family,” the actor said.  

Under the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, the Food and Drug Administration would be responsible for regulating distribution and labeling of genetically modified foods, which would be done on a voluntary basis. If passed, the bill would supersede a law requiring GMO labeling that was approved by the state of Vermont in May 2014; it was set to go into effect in July 2016. While the FDA could mandate labeling foods with alterations of nutritional properties, allergens, or other characteristics, the administration would be prohibited from requiring the labeling of GMO food products.

“We would just love this information. We think it’s important as consumers and as mothers,” Paltrow added.

Proponents of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act argue that GMO labeling would come with negative financial effects, including higher food costs. A study by Cornell University professor William Lesser found that if states such as New York passed laws requiring GMO food labeling, a four-person family would pay up to $500 more a year. However, an independent study conducted by Kai Robinson, a consultant for “Just Label It!”, found that food prices vary according to demand and not necessarily the ingredients. 

Another factor influencing the fight for GMO labels is the fear that health risks are associated with GMO food products, though there’s no evidence that is the case. But that hasn’t allayed public concerns: Despite more than 90 percent of U.S. corn and soy being genetically engineered, a recent Pew survey found that just 37 percent of the public thinks such foods are safe to eat.

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