Today, Maine became the second state to pass a GMO Labeling law, and like the first state, Connecticut, it requires four neighboring states to do the same before it goes into effect. New Hampshire will take up the bill this winter.
By banding together, the states want to build a defense against industry lawsuits, but
Monsanto and Big Food vow to challenge the two laws in court anyway - because they "violate the free speech and interstate commerce provisions of the U.S. Constitution."
Indeed, last week, DuPont, Syngenta and the Agrigenetics subsidiary of Dow Chemical filed a lawsuit to block the new law in Kauai, Hawaii that regulates plantings of GMO crops.
The GMO/ food industry is quick to react because they know once even a handful of states pass these laws, it's over. Kellogg’s and Coke won't label in some states and not others. And as in Europe, once consumers realize GMOs are in their products they will be forced to eliminate them. With GMOs in 70% of products sold in the US, it's not easy to find non-GMO suppliers, except those that are organic!
Already, there's strong demand for certification of non-GMO foods and a booming market for those foods. Driven mostly by demand in Europe and the US, it's expected to reach $800 billion by 2017, reports Packaged Facts.
The Bigger Picture
Labeling legislation has been introduced in at least 30 states this year, but the industry is working on a way to squash these efforts once and for all ...
How would they do that? By getting a weak, national law passed that promotes Voluntary labeling and which would make it illegal for states to pass mandatory laws.
Led by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the industry says it is concerned about a potential "inefficient and expensive state-by-state patchwork system" for products "that are proven to be safe."
The legislation would direct the FDA to develop a voluntary labeling system where products could be labeled “GMO-free.”
Mandatory labels would be required when a GMO product present risks to health or safety, but because the USDA allows GMO companies to test their own products for safety, none have ever been found to be unsafe!
Alongside this effort, the industry is also petitioning the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to allow companies to label products that contain GMOs as “natural”!
"This plan is so devious that it radically speeds up the approval process for new GMO crops, limits the FDA and USDA's ability to extend premarket safety reviews, declares GMO foods "safe" and redefines GMO foods as "bioengineered" to sanitize this deeply flawed technology to the American public," says Food Democracy Now.
Legislation in Both Houses
Using its regulatory authority, the FDA has the power to mandate national GMO labels, but since it hasn't
Senator Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced bills in both houses that direct the FDA to do so.
Senator Feinstein (D-CA) asked President Obama to use his power to require GMO labels (which was one of his campaign promises in 2008).
“Your administration should re-evaluate the Food and Drug Administration’s outdated policy that genetically engineered food does not need to disclose this fact on required labels,” Feinstein wrote in a letter to Obama.
Along with labels, the fight is expanding to outright bans on growing GMO crops. Counties in Hawaii, California, and Washington have passed bans and others will vote to create GMO-free zones in 2014.
"The biotech and junk food lobbies understand that public concern and anger are very likely to increase in 2014, given that a new generation of ever more hazardous and outrageous Frankenfoods and crops, including GMO salmon, apples and Agent Orange (2,4 D or dicamba-resistant) corn, are about to be approved by the Obama administration. This is why the Grocery Manufacturers Association blatantly broke the law in Washington, trying to conceal $12 million in campaign donations from some of the world’s largest and most profitable junk food companies, including Coke, Pepsi, Nestlé, General Mills and Kellogg’s," says Ronnie Cummins, International Director of the Organic Consumers Association.
"And this is why the food giants and biotech bullies—Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, BASF, Syngenta, and Bayer—are now secretly lobbying the federal government to take away states’ rights to pass mandatory labels on GMO food," he adds.
Unilever, Mars and some other major food companies - bruised by bad publicity and consumer boycotts - have stopped supporting the anti-GMO effort, arguing that labels are inevitable and must be accepted as in 60 other countries.
Consider It Done
Indeed, this week, the USDA released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS), calling for deregulation of GMO corn and soybeans that can withstand the toxic herbicide 2,4-D, a key ingredient in Agent Orange! Of course, the EIS says it's safe.
The extremely strong herbicide is necessary because of increased weed resistance to the widespread use of Roundup on GMO crops.
“These will not only spawn new weed resistant strains, but contaminate the environment and increase public health risks to cancer and Parkinson's disease, especially in farming communities," warns Nichelle Harriott, senior scientist at Beyond Pesticides.
Finally, Testbiotech published the first global overview that shows how GMO crops such as maize, rice, cotton, oilseed rape, bentgrass and poplar trees are spreading uncontrollably in countries across the world, reports Sustainable Pulse. In some regions, the transgenes have already moved into populations of wild relatives.
“Coexistence between GMO crops and biodiversity is not possible if crops are spreading into wild populations without control. Industry is contaminating biodiversity and our future seeds – who will hold them responsible?” asks Margarida Silva from the GMO-free Platform in Portugal.
Read our article, Why 'Big Food' is Afraid of GMO Labeling, Paying Plenty to Stop It.
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