An important issues is playing out this week in the US Senate. Monsanto–yes, that symbol-of-evil corporation-has been fighting hard to block a Vermont law calling for labeling of GMO containing foods. The Vermont law goes into effect on July 1, 2016. For background, see “The Tiny State Of Vermont Is Forcing GMO Labeling Nationwide.” Another good resource.
Note that this controversy is not about the pros and cons of GMOs, but only about labeling them so people can make their own decisions about consuming them.
This is not really such a big deal and some big-food corporations such as General Mills have announced they will comply nationwide.
But Monsanto and some other bad-actor groups such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association are dead set against labeling. The right-wing journal “Reason” raves “Unless a Federal Court Acts Fast, Vermont’s GMO Labeling Law Will Wreak Havoc on the Nation’s Food Supply Next Week.”
The Grocery Manufacturers Association, Snack Food Association, International Dairy Foods Association and National Association of Manufacturers have gone to court trying to block the Vermont law. Other bad actors such as the US Chamber of Commerce and the American Chemistry Council have filed amicus briefs opposing labeling.
The basic approach of the big-ag/GMO interests has been to require labeling, if at all, only in the form of bar codes not readable by humans. More meaningful requirements, such as Vermont’s, would be pre-empted.
With these dark-side interests lined up, and Republicans controlling the US House and Senate, the public interest hangs by a thread. So far, the House has voted with Monsanto, but there have not been enough votes in the Senate to enact the mischief. but the Organic Consumers Association reports in an action alert:
Monsanto has convinced Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and committee member Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to kill Vermont’s GMO labeling law. [emphasis added by Muller]
With Stabenow and Klobuchar’s support, Monsanto is two Senators closer to the 60 votes needed to get the Senate to schedule a vote and pass the DARK Act, the bill that would Deny Americans the Right to Know about GMOs.
TAKE ACTION: We can’t let Monsanto get the 60 votes needed to get this bill out of the Senatebecause once that happens, it’s just a matter of time before the House jumps on board, and Congress votes to kill Vermont’s GMO labeling law. Please call the Senate today at 888-897-0174.
In March, the Senate couldn’t get enough votes to pass the DARK Act. We have to make sure that the Senators who voted against the DARK Act in March don’t flip their votes to a “yes” now that the bill has been re-written. So it’s important that we find out how many Senators may change their votes. Click here to learn if your Senator voted for the DARK Act in March. If your Senator voted “no” and you learn that he or she plans to flip their vote to “yes,” please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No matter how your Senator voted last time, please call today to reiterate that you expect the Senate to reject this new version of the DARK Act. Here are some talking points you can use when you call your Senator.
“I’m a member of the Organic Consumers Association and I’m calling to express my opposition to the Roberts-Stabenow GMO labeling bill. This bill would kill the Vermont law that labels GMO foods as ‘produced with genetic engineering.’ Vermont’s law is working. GMOs are being labeled. Food prices are staying the same. The labels are being used nationwide. The Roberts-Stabenow bill wouldn’t require words on the package. It wouldn’t label all GMOs. It would take at least 2 years to take effect. And, it’s essentially voluntary because there would be no enforcement for non-compliance.”
An industry take on this seems to confirm what OCA has to say.
I have a call into Klubuchar’s DC shop trying to reach a knowledgeable staffer working on this issue. Previous efforts to do this in re other issues have not yielded much.
Meanwhile, contact information: 202.224.3244, https://www.klobuchar.senate.gov/public/contact-amy. Contact info for Klobuchar’s Minnesota offices.