The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) is one of the corporate front groups suing Vermont in an attempt to block the state’s GMO labeling law. The trade group is also lobbying for H.R. 4432, an anti-consumer, anti-states’ rights bill, introduced in April (2014) in the House of Representatives by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.). The bill, dubbed by consumers as the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, would preempt all state GMO labeling laws. HR 4432 would also legalize the use of the word “natural” on products that contain GMOs.
IDFA President and CEO Connie Tipton has been an outspoken opponent of consumers’ right to know. In her address to this year’s Dairy Forum, she noted that consumers “can be harsh critics on topics such as genetically modified organisms,” and then went on to criticize “restrictive labeling requirements” as “a straightjacket on innovation and marketing.”
Tipton has also made it clear that not only does the IDFA oppose mandatory GMO labeling laws, the trade group also opposes retailers’ efforts to label voluntarily. For instance, when Walmart considered labeling the GMO sweet corn it sells (a promise that remains unfulfilled), Tipton went on the attack:
[Walmart] announced this past summer it planned to sell a new crop of genetically modified sweet corn created by Monsanto. Nothing wrong with that, but a lot of us were scratching our heads when Wal-Mart added that it would label the product as containing GMO ingredients — even though the Food and Drug Administration has already said the product is safe. Given Wal-Mart’s size and market share, there are legitimate concerns that its decision on GMO labeling will force other retailers to march in lockstep behind the industry giant.
Why would the IDFA spend millions to defeat GMO labeling laws, including launching a lawsuit against Vermont?