September 16, 2014

The Legislative Battlefield on GMOs

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by Alliance for Natural Health

Some quick updates on hot-button issues in Congress and in state legislatures. (Please send a thank-you to some stalwart US senators!)

Those Pro-GMO Riders

Last week we told you about some sneaky GMO amendments—two riders attached to the Farm Bill, and one attached to the Agriculture Appropriations Bill.

The House was scheduled to consider a Continuing Resolution on the current Farm Bill last Tuesday evening in an attempt to trigger a conference committee, which would have allowed the biotech industry to sneak in their riders unnoticed. Your messages poured in protesting this illegitimate procedural move, and at the last minute the House leadership decided to pull the CR from the floor agenda because there weren’t enough votes to pass it. Instead the House approved some drought relief legislation which addresses one element of the 2008 Farm Bill. Congress will have to address the Farm Bill when everyone returns from August recess, before the current legislation expires end of September.

On the Ag Appropriations Bill, the situation remains unchanged. The bill has not yet been considered on the House floor, so it will most likely be considered when they return form August recess. They will likely drop it into an omnibus spending bill— and if they do, we will keep a close eye on whether the GMO riders are included or not.

Label the GMOs?

Senators Bernie Sanders and Barbara Boxer offered a GMO labeling amendment to the Farm Bill. This amendment would have reinforced states’ existing authority to require labeling of genetically engineered foods. It also required FDA and USDA to compile a report to Congress detailing the percentage of food and beverages sold in the United States that contain GE ingredients. Unfortunately, the amendment failed, 26 to 73. Action Alert! If you are a resident of any of these states, please write to the 26 senators who supported the amendment, and thank them!

Senators who supported the amendment: 

Akaka (D-HI)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Boxer (D-CA)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kerry (D-MA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Manchin (D-WV)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murray (D-WA)
Reed (D-RI)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-NM)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)

 

Increasingly, states are taking action on GE labeling in the face of federal government inaction. Bills are still pending in Missouri, Hawaii, New Jersey, and of course California.

In Vermont, the “VT Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act” was gaining steam, both in the legislature and with the public, when Monsanto threatened to sue the state of Vermont if its legislature passed the bill. So the bill languished in committee until May, when the legislature adjourned for the year.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski tried to create more hurdles to slow the approval of GE salmon. She offered an amendment that would have required a comprehensive analysis of the environmental and economic impacts of genetically engineered fish by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). However, that would have meant that NOAA would have to apply their own standards and environmental assessments for federal fisheries (such as analyzing the potential impact of the GE salmon escaping), which is beyond the scope of what FDA usually does, and the Senate voted against the amendment

Other Farm Bill Amendments

Finally, an update on two amendments we told you about this past June.

Sen. Leahy’s amendment to the Farm Bill would have increased jail terms to ten years for supplement manufacturers who “adulterate” or “misbrand” their product (which includes not following the FDA-determined NDI procedure, which we have argued is profoundly flawed and burdensome). Happily, Leahy’s amendment will not be part of the Farm Bill amendment package, though it is important we stay vigilant on the issue, since he has offered the same legislation in various forms previously (the exact same language is found in Sen. Leahy’s bill S.216, which is currently languishing in committee in the House).

Unfortunately, the same fate struck Sen. Paul’s raw milk amendment. Paul’s language would have allowed for the sale and interstate transportation of raw milk, but the amendment will not be included in the amendment package when it comes up for its vote.

Read the full article here: http://www.anh-usa.org/the-legislative-battlefield/


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In a ruling lauded by Costa Rica’s anti-GMO activists, the country’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court struck down the government’s regulatory framework on genetically modified organisms, declaring the process of approval for GMO projects unconstitutional.

In the court’s opinion, Chief Justice Gilbert Armijo Sancho wrote that the regulations violate the Costa Rican Constitution because the secrecy allowed to GMO companies in terms of the genetic information of their products violates the constitutional right to freedom of information.

“This is an important precedent that shows the interests of companies linked to this type of activity – among them the multinational Monsanto which is seeking permits to plant corn – have benefited from the granting of permits in a manner that violates the fundamental rights of the population,” FECON said.

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GMO Golden Rice not so “Golden” After All: Farmers Call to Stop GMO Rice Trials

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GM Golden Rice was developed at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines with the hope that it could provide more vitamin A through beta carotene. The project was a huge disaster, however, and basically shelved for years. But then Bill Gates came along, the college-drop-out-turned-billionaire who started Microsoft Corp., looking for something to spend his billions of dollars to promote. All of a sudden, with big money providing jobs to pursue a failed project, GM Golden Rice had new life.

There’s just one problem: the Asian farmers don’t want it. Philippine farmers have called for a halt to field trials after very poor results, large debts, and a concern for their native rice seeds.

Are Experimental Vaccines Growing in a GMO Corn Field Near You?

Are Experimental Vaccines Growing in a GMO Corn Field Near You?

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With more and more people waking up to the dangers and false claims being made for vaccines today, it is becoming more difficult for the pharmaceutical lobbyists to enact mandatory vaccination laws at the local level. A recent bill in Colorado was defeated when citizens turned out to oppose legislation that would have prohibited vaccine exemptions. Are pharmaceutical companies now looking for new ways to market their vaccines that bypass the freedom to choose completely without the consumer even realizing they are consuming their products? The chemical industry, after all, has been successful for years in getting municipalities to put fluoride in public water supplies completely bypassing consumer choice.

Recently obtained information through a freedom of information act shows that pharmaceutical companies and biotech are teaming up to produce genetically modified corn that will contain vaccines like hepatitis B. There are secret locations along California’s Central Coast where plots of experimental genetically engineered corn are producing proteins for industrial and pharmaceutical uses, including an experimental vaccine for hepatitis B.

Guatemala Strikes Down ‘Monsanto Law’

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In a close vote, Guatemala’s Congress rejects genetically modified seeds in country’s agricultural development. The law would have authorized stricter property rights and risked monopolizing agricultural processes in the country by placing copyrights on agriculture for the next 25 years.

Asian Farmers and Scientists Say No to GMO Golden Rice

Asian Farmers and Scientists Say No to GMO Golden Rice

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GM Golden Rice was developed at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines with the hope that it could provide more vitamin A through beta carotene. The project was a huge disaster, however, and basically shelved for years. But then Bill Gates came along, the college-drop-out-turned-billionaire who started Microsoft Corp., looking for something to spend his billions of dollars to promote. All of a sudden, with big money providing jobs to pursue a failed project, GM Golden Rice has new life.

There are multiple problems with GMO Golden Rice, including the fact that the people from rice-producing countries do not want it!

Recently many top scientists and farmer advocates from rice-producing countries met in the Philippines in an effort to try and stop more field testing, and the commercialization of Golden Rice. The science behind Golden Rice does not prove benefits, and it threatens genetic diversity among traditional rice varieties which is necessary in many parts of the world that experience natural and man-made disasters. Like any GMO seed crop, Golden Rice would take the future of farming in rice-producing countries away from the control of the farmers and give it to multinational corporations that would then control the rice seed supplies.

MASIPAG (Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Development) in the Philippines hosted the event earlier this year, and has recently provided video interviews from some of the participants in English.

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