1.Senate rejects Sanders' food labeling amendment
2.GMO Labeling Wars: Battlefield California
3.House committee adds biotech shield to Farm Bill
NOTE: See how each senator voted here
POLL: Have your say. Should states be allowed to require clear labels on any food or beverage containing genetically engineered ingredients?
RESOURCE: Check out our new GMO labeling videos – from Obama to Anonymous on the Right to Know:
EXTRACT: The Center for Food Safety, which has sued over USDA approvals of biotech crops, called the bill's language [see item 3] a "Monsanto profit assurance provision" that interferes with judicial oversight of agency decisions and has the potential to disrupt the global grain trade.
The bill would "empower a single corporation and a few of its industry friends to move beyond the control of the U.S. courts, USDA and public review to make their own rules and profit from slippery back door politics," Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the center, said today in a statement. [item 3]
1.Senate rejects Sanders' food labeling amendment
Sen. Bernie Sanders office, June 21 2012
WASHINGTON The Senate today rejected an amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to let states require clear labels on any food or beverage containing genetically engineered ingredients.
The vote on the amendment to the farm bill was 26 to 73.
"This is the very first time a bill on labeling genetically engineered food has been brought before the Senate. It was opposed by virtually every major food corporation in the country. While we wish we could have gotten more votes, this is a good step forward and something we are going to continue to work on. The people of Vermont and the people of America have a right to know what's in the food that they eat."
In the past year, 36 bills dealing with the labeling of genetically engineered foods have been introduced in Vermont, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia.
The Vermont Legislature considered a bill that would have required labels on genetically engineered food products. Despite House Agriculture Committee support, however, the measure was stymied after the chemical giant Monsanto threatened to sue the state.
Co-sponsored by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Sanders’ amendment would have made clear that states have the authority to require the labeling of foods produced through genetic engineering.
In the United States, Sanders said, food labels already must list more than 3,000 ingredients ranging from high-fructose corn syrup to trans-fats. Unlike 49 countries around the world, however, foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients do not have to be labeled in the U.S.
The measure also would have required the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to report to Congress within two years on the percentage of food and beverages in the United States that contain genetically engineered ingredients.
Pro-consumer organizations backing the Sanders amendment included the Center for Food Safety, Union of Concerned Scientists, National Farmers Union, Environmental Working Group, American Public Health Association, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Public Citizen, U.S. PIRG, New England Farmers Union, Environment America, National Cooperative Grocers Association, Friends of the Earth, the Sierra Club, and others.
2.GMO Labeling Wars: Battlefield California
Media Bistro, June 21 2012
Come November, California will vote on an initiative that would require labeling of foods that contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
Since the news broke last week that the Right to Know initiative will officially be on the ballot, there has been much speculation over how corporations would handle this potentially industry-wide PR issue should the law be passed (if the recent Kashi/GMO soy scandal is any indicator, it could get pretty ugly).
Stacy Malkan, spokesperson for the Right to Know campaign, told Organic Connections Magazine, “This initiative is pretty simple. It’s about our fundamental right to make informed choices about the food we eat and feed our families.” And Grant Lundberg, CEO of Lundberg Family Farms in the Sacramento Valley was quoted as saying, “More than 40 other countriesincluding all of Europe, Japan and even Chinalabel genetically engineered food. Californians deserve to be able to make informed choices too.”
And California is likely just the beginning.
As concerns about possible health risks of consuming GMOs and outrage over lack of transparency in labeling continue to grow, other states may follow suit (similar bills have been proposed in over a dozen states, but C.A. is the first to get one on their ballot).
The U.S. is one of only a few developed countries that do not already require labeling of genetically engineered food. In fact, roughly 80 percent of our processed foods contain some sort of GMO ingredients, and are allowed to boast labels like, “all natural,”"naturally derived,” “naturally flavored,”etc. You can read a detailed New York Times article about the GMO labeling wars here.
While some people are taking control by using their purchasing power to buy organic foods and those labeled “Non-GMO Project Verified,” others are going beyond petitioning government agencies and corporations to require transparent labeling, and are taking matters into their own hands (literally).
The Label it Yourself movement is inspiring some to do exactly what their name would indicate label GMO-containing foods themselves, drive-by style. On the Label it Yourself website, it says that the movement is a “decentralized, autonomous grassroots campaign born out of our broken food system.” It encourages people to “autonomously label GMOs and empower others to do so, rescue words like ‘All Natural’ and ‘Natural Flavors’ from being hijacked, expose unfair labor practices.”
There is no denying the power of consumers beginning to demand something on a large scale (with laws, movements, and their pocketbooks), and the far-reaching implications of how those demands are dealt with by governments and corporations alike.
So is it too soon to declare the stealthy shoppers slapping GMO labels on ketchup bottles modern day tea partiers and California a hotbed of revolution? Possibly. But heads-up, food industry giants: I’m pretty sure the King disregarded those pesky tea-spilling Bostonians as a ragtag group of rebels who stood no chance against the vastness of his empire”¦and look where that got him.
3.Monsanto Crop Bans by Courts Would Be Reversed in Bill
Bloomberg News, June 19 2012
A House of Representatives committee voted to let farmers grow genetically modified crops developed by Monsanto Co. (MON) and its competitors during legal appeals of the approval process.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture would be required to permit modified crops to be planted and sold into the food supply after the agency’s approvals have been invalidated by a court, under a provision in the fiscal 2013 agriculture spending bill approved by the House Appropriations committee today.
The one-paragraph provision in the the 90-page bill would circumvent legal obstacles that have slowed commercialization of engineered crops, sometimes for years, benefiting Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company. Planting would be permitted until USDA completes any analysis required by a judge.
“A stream of lawsuits” have slowed approvals and created uncertainties for companies developing the modified plants, James C. Greenwood, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, whose members include Monsanto and Dupont Co., said in a June 13 letter to Congress. “The regulatory certainty provided by this legislative language would address an immediate threat to the regulatory process.”
The bill is similar to the accommodation the USDA made last year in allowing farmers to plant Roundup Ready sugar beets while the agency completed a court-mandated environmental impact statement. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in San Francisco ruled in 2009 that the USDA erred in approving the crop without undertaking the additional scrutiny.
The American Soybean Association, one of nine U.S. agriculture groups supporting the House provision, said the legislation would give farmers assurance they can plant and harvest modified crops during legal challenges.
The Center for Food Safety, which has sued over USDA approvals of biotech crops, called the bill’s language a “Monsanto profit assurance provision” that interferes with judicial oversight of agency decisions and has the potential to disrupt the global grain trade.
The bill would “empower a single corporation and a few of its industry friends to move beyond the control of the U.S. courts, USDA and public review to make their own rules and profit from slippery back door politics,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the center, said today in a statement.
The center joined today with dozens of other watchdog groups and organic associations in opposing the provision in a letter to Congress.
Monsanto supports the provision, along with the American Farm Bureau Federation, Sara Miller, a spokeswoman for the St. Louis-based company, said in an e-mail today.
The USDA’s approval of Roundup Ready alfalfa was overturned in 2007 by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco, who banned further plantings pending the completion of a more thorough environmental impact statement. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the planting ban in June 2010, and the USDA re- approved the crop in January 2011 after completing the court- ordered study.
The appropriations bill now goes to the full House for consideration.