Last week saw an inter-agency power grab. It begins with the weakening of organic standards—and could end with the term “organic” becoming practically meaningless. Action Alert! Tell the USDA to use a public and transparent process for all major changes to organic standards by publishing proposed changes in the Federal Register, and actively seeking public input and discussion. In addition, tell the USDA to enforce the sunset provision of the OFPA as it was originally intended—allowing synthetic products to remain after their “sunset” date only after public debate and a two-thirds vote of the NOSB. More than 100 synthetics will be up for sunset consideration in 2015. We must act now to protect the integrity of organics.
The United States now uses about 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides each year, and mounting research has linked pesticides to an array of serious health problems. What we need is not a new breed of chemical-resistant crops, but that’s exactly what we’re getting.
The U.S. continues to be isolated around the world regarding their lax GMO labeling policy. We are losing millions of dollars in exports because countries such as China, Russian, Japan, Korea, and most of Europe will not buy our products if they are contaminated with GMOs. A recent Congressional meeting, however, concluded that the push to label GMO products in the U.S. was due to the ignorance of the American consumer. One has to wonder where the ignorance actually resides?
The ink was barely dry on Vermont’s first-in-the-nation GMO labeling law when a national industry trade group declared it would seek to overturn it. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents cereal-maker General Mills, among others, said Friday it intends to sue the state to reverse the law. Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell said Monday the state is prepared. “We’re expecting to be sued and we’ll put the A-team on the case if and when we are sued,” Sorrell said.
The video here is Joel Salatin's speech making the claim against federal initiatives to label GMO foods. He spoke in a debate with Dr. Mercola, who presented the pro-government labeling side. The debate was a fund-raising event sponsored by the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund in Atlanta. It should be noted that both persons debating are friends, and opposed to GMOs. Both sides actually make great points, but Salatin's message is the one less heard. He posted the transcript on the Polyface Farm Facebook Page here, which we copied below. It is a message that needs to be heard by all concerned about GMO products, and the dangers of relying on a government largely influenced by lobbyists from Big Ag and Big Food to do something to "protect" consumers.
Politico broke a story last week showing how the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents such processed food giants as ConAgra, PepsiCo and Kraft, is trying to preempt state GMO labeling laws by formulating a bill at the national level. While the story in Politico mentions that this is a bill that could reach the floor sometime later this year, it is good to be aware of this potential strategy in case we see it end up as a rider or amendment in the current Farm Bill currently under debate. Should ANY legislation be passed at the national level, either preventing or requiring, GMO labeling?
Joanna Shepherd-Bailey, PhD, has released a new report demonstrating how not labeling GMOs hurts the economy, makes the food industry less competitive worldwide, has a negative impact on food exports, imports, and jobs, diminishes tax revenue, and has a ripple impact on other associated industries. This is all, of course, in addition to the harm to consumers who are forced to eat an untested and potentially very dangerous food. What will happen if we don’t label GMOs? Dr. Shepherd-Bailey’s report shows that our ability to compete worldwide in agricultural products will be harmed.
Today’s GMO labeling agreement is historic and we are proud to have played a role in its development. YOU should all be proud. Connecticut will now set the standard for states around the country to follow. We are grateful to all who worked to make this possible. Thank you to all our champions in the House and the Senate.
It’s good news/bad news in Connecticut for GMO labeling advocates this week, where the state Senate voted 35-1 in favor of SB 802, a GE labeling bill that ANH-USA helped draft. After the Senate passed the bill, the Connecticut House accepted an amendment from Governor Dan Malloy and Speaker Brendan Sharkey, despite strong protest from advocates, that weakened the bill. On the federal level, the Sanders amendment to the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013, which would have permitted states to require the labeling of GMOs, failed with a vote of 71-27.
Pesticides? Yes. GMOs? Maybe. Hormones? Maybe not. ANH-USA’s executive and legal director, Gretchen DuBeau, was a member of the US delegation to the Codex Committee of Food Labeling (CCFL), which met in Canada last week. We were honored to bring the voice of the consumer to the table at Codex, especially since it is otherwise heavily influenced by big corporate interests. At this meeting, four areas of concern were discussed: GMO labeling; Whether the pesticide ethylene may be used on organic produce; Organic standards for aquaculture and seaweed; and Biofortification of grains.