Sometimes there is good news from our nation’s capitol. Senate Bill 2609 that would have taken away State’s Rights to force GMO food labeling has not passed.
Whichever side you of this issue you are on about the continuing proliferation of GMO foods, you should support the effort to make full disclosure mandatory on a food’s label regarding its origin. Don’t you believe that we have the right to know what we are eating? Surveys of Americans have shown that 90% of us want labels to indicate whether the food they purchased has been genetically modified. You would think that this would be a “no-brainer”.
Unfortunately, some very strong lobbying groups -Grocery Store Chains and Biotech companies like Monsanto- have been trying to push through Congress a law called the DARK Act, which would override State’s rights to require foods to be correctly labeled. The grocery chains (Grocery Manufacturers Assn. led notably by Pepsico, Dow, and Monsanto) defeated a proposed California bill last year to require GMO labeling by running an expensive add campaign to scare people into believing that their average cost of food each year would increase by $400 per home if the State law passed to require GMO labeling.
The Senate fight is led by their chief GMO tout – Senator Pat Roberts of (could you have guessed this one) Kansas. He is the author of the DARK bill (Deny Americans the Right to Know) that would make it mandatory that GMO be hidden from labeling of foods. Roberts is 79 years old, has been in Washington in the House of Representatives and then the Senate since 1981.
The reason this bill has gotten this far is because — major food, farm and biotech seed companies spent more than $100 million in the United States last year to battle labeling efforts, according to a lobbying disclosure analysis from the Environmental Working Group who also uncovered that during the last 3 elections, Big Food and Ag businesses and organizations have donated more than $2.5 million to members of the Senate Agriculture Committee and over $8.5 million to Senate candidates overall.
The recipients of the greatest support were Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky). Sen. Roberts collected $289,000 from farm-related industries during the last three election cycles and $151,000 from food businesses over the same period ($440,000 total). Sen. McConnell received $241,500 and $219,700 during the same period ($461,200 total). Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), ranking member of the Agriculture Committee, received $264,900 and $126,200 ($391,100 total).
In the U.S., Federal Law overrides individual State law. While the Biotechs have been waging this war against disclosure in the individual States, the most efficient way to end the GMO debate and hide it from the label is to pass a Federal Law. On March 17, the DARK Act failed to get the min. 60 votes in the Senate to advance. GMO tout Sen. Roberts immediately rewrote his bill and will be presenting it again to the Senate. He probably does not have a chance of it passing. But at least he is showing the Big Ag/Biotech/Grocery Store Assn. folks he is earning their pay.
The reason these people are in such a hurry to get the DARK Act passed is because on July 1st, Vermont’s law, the first State to require GMO labeling, will take effect. The defeat of Sen. Roberts’ bill is a very positive step towards mandatory GMO labeling in the U.S. which would allow what two-thirds of the world – including Russia and China – already have — mandatory GMO labeling of foods.
Here is a recent photo of several happy non-GMO fish. They are happy because they are not swimming near Washington D.C. nor Massachusetts where there are efforts underway to modify their genetic structure and to keep you from knowing which fish are GMO, thanks to the FDA and their friends.