Rep. Mike Pompeo’s voluntary GMO labeling bill has been amended to include another brazen giveaway to Big Food and the biotech industries. We’ve been closely monitoring the progress of the bill introduced by Rep. Pompeo (R-KS) and backed by industry. It’s titled, deceptively, the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015”—and the news hasn’t been good. A few weeks ago, we reported that a Senate version of Pompeo’s bill was in the works while the House bill continued to gain co-sponsors and bipartisan support. Worse, a new draft of the Pompeo bill doubles down in pandering to the Big Food and biotech industries. In this revision, states and localities would be prevented from banning GMO crops. That’s right—states would no longer have any oversight over genetically engineered crops! Over the last few weeks, the bill has been continuing to gain momentum. Hearings on the measure have been held in the Energy and Commerce and the Agricultural committees, and a “mark-up” session is expected to happen soon, bringing the bill even closer to a vote.
A current proposed federal law on GMO food would prevent States from passing their own GMO laws on labeling GMO foods. This past week, Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group reported that Rep. Mike Pompeo's anti-GMO labeling bill, H.R. 1599, would also prevent companies from voluntarily labeling their products with non-GMO claims. Section 102 of Pompeo’s bill would make any non-GMO claim a violation of federal labeling law – unless the non-GMO claim was approved through a new certification program to be established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Under Pompeo’s bill, it could take the USDA at least a year, and more likely years to set up such a certification program. If you do not want the federal government forcing companies to stop voluntarily informing their consumers about whether or not their products have GMO ingredients in them, then urge your federal elected officials to oppose H.R. 1599 (and any Senate equivalent).
10,000 Sue Syngenta Over Unapproved GMO Corn Shipped to China – U.S. Farmers Lose $5 Billion in Sales
Town hall meetings have been taking place recently regarding corn litigation with the Syngenta company. The lawsuit is regarding claims that Syngenta sold genetically modified corn with a strain called MIR-162 to China without their approval of the modification. "The first shipment that tested positive for MIR-162," Hecker Law Group attorney Jacob Hecker said, "was destroyed by the Chinese in 2013. Afterwards all other shipments with trace amounts of the strain were sent back to where they came from." Due to the boycott, agriculture experts say the cost of the damages involved is in the range of $5 billion.
This past weekend (June 6, 2015) a historic ban on growing GMO crops went into effect in Jackson County, Oregon. The ban was the result of a ballot initiative in 2014, where citizens voted overwhelmingly to ban the growing of GMO crops in Jackson County, Oregon, by a 65.9% to 34.1% measure. This was seen as a significant victory, since the corporate opposition to the GMO ban spent over $1 million to try and defeat the measure. Just after the GMO ban ballot initiative was passed, two GMO alfalfa farmers sued Jackson County saying the GMO ban would cause them undue financial hardship and violated their constitutional rights. But a federal judge rejected their request to block the ban on May 30th. U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke ruled that the GMO ban is not pre-empted by Oregon's "right to farm" law. Non-GMO farmers now seem to have a clear path to sue GMO farmers if their crops are contaminated by GMO crops in Jackson County, which would be a first in the U.S.
Will Foods Contaminated with Glyphosate have to Carry a Prop 65 Cancer Warning to be Sold in California?
In late March, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization (WHO), determined that glyphosate—the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup—is a Class 2 A “probable carcinogen.” This determination is nothing short of devastating to Monsanto and other chemical technology companies that rule our food supply, and recent “astroturf” attack on Dr. Oz reveals just how desperate they are to quell rising concerns. Not only is the IARC considered the global gold standard for carcinogenicity studies, it’s also one of the research agencies from which the California agency of environmental hazards gets its data to declare carcinogens under Prop 65. So, eventually, foods containing glyphosate will likely have to carry a Prop 65 cancer warning label to be sold in California.
Seeds are under attack everywhere. Under corporate pressure, laws in many countries increasingly put limitations on what farmers can do with their seeds and with the seeds they buy. Seed saving, a thousand-year-old practice which forms the basis of farming, is fast becoming criminalised. What can we do about this?
Food and biotechnology companies spent $63.6 million in 2014 alone to oppose mandatory labeling of genetically modified food ingredients, or GMOs, according to a new analysis by EWG. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, for example, disclosed $5.8 million in lobbying expenditures around GMO labeling in 2014, “up sharply from $60,000 in 2013,” according to the analysis. PepsiCo nearly doubled the amount it spent, dedicating more than $4 million to the anti-labeling effort in 2014, up from 2.6 million in 2013. Other iconic companies that spent big in 2014 to deny consumers the right to know if their foods contain GMOs include Kellogg ($2.1 million), General Mills ($2.6 million) and Coca-Cola, which put up more than $9 million – the most of any food company, according to the report.
Our opposition to Golden Rice and other GM crops are founded on solid arguments and actual experiences of Filipino farmers on GM crops. Filipino farmers who have been planting GM crops suffered negative income, health problems and poisoned environment.
A new bill to let food producers decide whether to label GMOs could prevent states from passing mandatory labeling laws. It’s expected to be introduced in the next few weeks—so we need to dissuade potential co-sponsors now! At the behest of the Monsantos and Cargills of the world, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) is expected to reintroduce his Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act in the next week or two. If passed, it would nullify the efforts of ten states that are currently considering bills to require the labeling of genetically engineered foods.
Seeds represent the foundation of life. We depend on them for food, for medicine and for our very survival. In many ways, you can trace the underpinnings of any given culture through the heritage of their crops and seeds. It wasn’t long ago when seeds were mostly the concern of farmers who, as the Worldwatch Institute put it, “were the seed producers and the guardians of societies’ crop heritage." But this is no longer the case. Once considered to be the property of all, like water or even air, seeds have become largely privatized, such that only a handful of companies now control the global food supply. Ninety-three percent of seeds were lost from 1903 to 1993. Just four agrichemical companies own 43 percent of the world’s commercial seed supply. The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership estimates that 60,000 to 100,000 plant species are in danger of extinction.