By Mark Wachtler
March 28, 2015. Wichita, KS. (ONN) Three days ago, a bi-partisan pair of US Representatives re-introduced a Bill in the US House that would stop states from requiring the labeling of GMO foods. But this year, there is a major surprise that is sure to divide the anti-GMO movement. The new 2015 version of the Keep Food Safe And Affordable Act allows manufacturers and retailers to label their products non-GMO. If passed, it would create a voluntary registry of GMO-free products much like the certified Organic program.
Rep Mike Pompeo (R-KS) sponsor of the Keep Food Safe and Affordable Act. Image courtesy of OrganicConsumers.org.
Past attempts by pro-GMO members of Congress to deny Americans the right to know if their foods are genetically modified or not have included everything from preempting state labeling laws to forbidding non-GMO products from advertising the fact. The new Keep Food Safe And Affordable Act of 2015 seems to meet anti-GMO activists half way. The question is, will the concession be enough for activists and consumers who not only want GMO foods labeled, but banned as well?
If the Bill’s sponsors are true to their word, the new legislation would void state laws that require GMO products to be labeled, and instead allow those manufacturers and retailers who wish to promote their products as non-GMO to do so. According to the primary sponsors - US Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and US Rep GK Butterfield (D-NC) - a non-GMO certification and labeling program would be created just like the nation’s certified Organic program.
What supporters are saying
The press release from Rep. Pompeo touts the Bill’s 17 co-sponsors, including 9 Republicans and 8 Democrats. It also explains the new twist saying, ‘Without the reforms in this legislation, a patchwork of state GMO labeling laws could mislead consumers and increase food prices for families. This bill preserves and affirms the FDA’s role in food safety, while ensuring that all Americans’ desire to know what’s in their food is respected. To that end, this legislation includes a new provision to allow those who wish to label their products as GMO-free to do so through a USDA-accredited certification process.’
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Also supporting the Bill is powerful House Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI). He released a statement saying, “When it comes to food labeling, state by state standards do not work. This bill seeks to end the guessing game and provide folks the peace of mind that labels are accurate. Safe and accurate labeling is something that we should all be able to rally around with broad bipartisan support.”
The American Farm Bureau was quick to add its support, releasing a statement saying, ‘The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 would clarify the FDA as the nation’s foremost authority on food safety and create a voluntary labeling program run by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, the same agency that administers the USDA Organic Program. We applaud the bipartisan leadership of Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and GK Butterfield (D-NC) in reintroducing this bill.’
What opponents are saying
On the opposite side of the debate are those that want genetically modified foods banned from US markets just like they are in other countries. But as a secondary goal, they at least want a mandatory requirement forcing GMO products to be labeled as such so consumers can make their own decision whether to buy them or not. This new legislation only seems to go one-third of the way. According to Food and Water Watch, that’s just not enough.
“Today, Big Food’s play for control became ever more clear when Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS) introduced the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which might as well be called the ‘Denying Americans the Right to Know’ Act (DARK Act), or Monsanto’s Dream Bill,” said FWW’s Executive Director Wenonah Hauter, “In addition to preempting state-level GMO labeling efforts, the bill would also make it harder for FDA to set up a federal labeling requirement and would basically uphold our current, flawed system for GMO approvals.”
Addressing the new provision in the Bill that would create a federal non-GMO certified labeling program, Hauter said, “And what about those voluntary non-GMO labels you see on some foods now? Under the DARK Act, USDA would oversee those labels, and they’d most likely be weakened. Of course, this is all window dressing for the bill’s primary intent - to prevent activists from passing GMO labeling bills on the state level.”
20 States sue GMO manufacturer over lies
If there’s one thing the anti-GMO forces know, it’s that they have the truth on their side. We can say that because the GMO industry has been caught in one lie after another for two decades. The latest being the most costly of all. Lawsuits across America by farmers against GMO seed maker Syngenta accuse the corporation of lying to them when the company talked them into switching to Syngenta’s GMO corn seeds. According to suits in 20 states, GMO sales reps assured the farmers that GMO corn was approved in China. The truth is, while a tiny variety of GMO products are okay for sale in the world’s largest economy, Syngenta’s GMO corn isn’t one of them.
According to Bloomberg Business, American farmers will lose $6.3 billion through 2015 over this one lie. For the past two years, news accounts have repeatedly reported on billions of pounds of American GMO corn being turned away at Chinese ports. GMO manufacturers always dismiss the news saying the corn will be sold in other Southeast Asian countries and US farmers will see no financial loss. US trade officials condemn their Chinese counterparts while the scene replays over and over again.
According to the lawsuits, Syngenta sales reps told American farmers that reports of a Chinese ban on GMO corn were all propaganda and lies from a bunch of environmental whackos, and thousands of farmers believed the company. To their own financial devastation, they bought and grew millions of acres of corn that is banned outside the US. They were forced to sell it for pennies on the dollar. And according to many non-GMO farmers, the Syngenta GMO corn has tainted much of America’s non-GMO corn fields, leading to the rejection of their corn as well.
Just yesterday, the Dodge City Daily Globe announced local town hall meetings for all the farmers in southwest Kansas that have been victimized by Syngenta and their GMO corn seeds. From Kansas to Wisconsin and 20 states in total so far, the scene is the same. Farmers are getting together on the local level and joining class action lawsuits against the GMO corn seed manufacturer Syngenta for lying to them and financially devastating their family farms.
As detailed by the small town paper The Star in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, ‘The lawsuit claims that Syngenta AG affirmatively misrepresented to US farmers the status of approval of the seed by China, and failed to disclose that the genetically-modified seed had, in fact, not been approved.’
Horrors of GMO foods comes out
It seems like it’s taking forever for the Washington-Wall Street establishment to concede what everyone else already knows. Genetically modified foods have horrible side effects. First, scientists exposed that Monsanto’s GMO Roundup pesticide was linked to skyrocketing cases of autism in America. Then there was the anonymously submitted sticky note into federal legislation that included the Monsanto Protection Act without the knowledge of the members of Congress who voted for it. The law exempted GMO manufacturers from all civil and criminal lawsuits, in the past and in the future, by victims from the side effects of GMO products.
Yet another smoking gun against GMO seeds and their accompanying pesticides and herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup was the revelation that it’s the ever more potent GMO pesticides that are responsible for America’s bee die-off. Scattered in between all of those revelations are the never-ending water samples from municipal drinking water tests showing our country’s drinking water tainted with the very same pesticides.
WHO says Roundup causes cancer, “probably”
One week ago, the World Health Organization shocked the country’s agri-giants by announcing that Monsanto’s patented weed-killer Roundup “probably” causes cancer. As reported by the New York Times last Friday, ‘The organization’s cancer arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said glyphosate, the active ingredient in the Monsanto herbicide Roundup, was “classified as probably carcinogenic to humans.” It also said there was “limited evidence” that glyphosate was carcinogenic in humans.’
The WHO report actually admits that their conclusions aren’t based on any new evidence, but from studies on GMO seeds and their accompanying herbicides and pesticides that are over a decade old. The NY Times reports, ‘The evidence for the WHO’s conclusion was from studies of exposure, mostly agricultural, in the United States, Canada, and Sweden that were published since 2001.’
While dozens of members of Congress introduce a Bill to protect GMO foods and their required herbicides like Roundup, dozens of other members of Congress signed a letter to President Obama last week urging him to act against the very same GMO products like Roundup. As detailed by Natural News, ‘The letter authored by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), says that the butterflies are “in peril of being lost to the history books” in large part because of the “virtual eradication” of milkweed plants from their primary breeding grounds in the Midwest.’
‘With the advent of herbicide-resistant genetically engineered crops, the use of herbicides like glyphosate has increased,’ the Congressional letter to President Obama read, ‘As a result, researchers now estimate that more than half of milkweed has been wiped out in the Midwestern Farm Belt since 1999, and more than 98% of milkweed has been wiped out from corn and soybean areas in Iowa due to the widespread overuse of glyphosate.’
The facts appear to show that genetically modified foods and their required pesticides and herbicides are not only destroying America’s natural resources, they “probably cause cancer in humans”, and they’ve bankrupted thousands of American family farms. Will simply allowing manufacturers to label their products as non-GMO be enough? Or will American consumers hold out for a ban on GMO products and their pesticides all together?