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Bill Banning State GMO-Labeling Laws Moves to House Floor

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-anti-gmo-rally-toronto-may-woman-carrying-sign-to-denounce-intake-genetically-modified-food-against-giant-image35586321The U.S. House Agriculture Committee has approved a bill that would put an end to state-level laws regulating the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food.

The bill, H.R. 1599, or the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, would require a national standard for labeling laws related to GMOs — one that did not require food companies to disclose their use of genetically modified ingredients.

Companies that wished to tout the fact that their products do not contain GMOs, such as with a “GMO-Free” label, would still be able to do so if the bill passed. That process would operate similarly to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s organic certification.

Maine, Connecticut and Vermont have already passed laws that would require foods containing GMOs to be labeled, while GMO-labeling campaigns are underway in a number of other states.

The bill, initially introduced by Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), is expected to pass the House. Whether or not it will pass the Senate is less certain.

The bill’s supporters in Congress say that GMOs are inherently safe and that no well-regarded scientific experts have proven a safety concern over GMOs.

“Consumers increasingly want to know more about where their food comes from and how it is produced,” said Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee. “I think H.R. 1599 satisfies that demand while also recognizing what we know about the safety of the foods that our farmers produce. The bill is a workable solution that will alleviate the potential mess of 50 states with 50 different labeling schemes,” he said.

Other lawmakers and consumer groups, such as the Center for Food Safety and the Environmental Working Group (EWG), disagree. They oppose the bill, saying that it denies consumers the right to know what is in their food.

“Americans have the right to know what’s in food and how it was grown — the same as citizens of 64 other nations that require GMO labeling,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s vice president of government affairs. “It’s time for lawmakers to recognize that right and stand for GMO labeling.”

As much as 80 percent of packaged foods in grocery stores contains GMO ingredients, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which opposes GMO labeling.

The House is expected to vote on H.R. 1599 later this month.

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© Food Safety News
  • SeaKat

    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.
    After all, it took ten years to publish the rule implementing the
    National Organic Program.

    Pompeo doesn’t even know what’s in the bill he (supposedly) wrote.

  • JKT

    Finally, a law that makes sense! The obvious thing all along has been to set up a certified labeling system for “Contains no GMO” similar to the certified organic nonsense.

    I hope HR1599 passes both houses and this ridiculous GMO phobia can recede back into the dark recesses of Luddite minds where it belongs. Only two amendments I would suggest: first would be for funding such a certification process with sales taxes applied to products so labeled “No GMO” and second that the tax be sufficient to support extensive testing and rigorous enforcement that foods so labeled are, in fact, devoid of GMO ingredients under severe mandatory penalty of law for cheaters. Massive fines for food packagers caught cheating would also be directed back into testing and enforcement. I can think of no better way to make a new non-GMO class of foods seem like something special. We will soon discover if there truly is broadbased support for labeling, as anti-GMO activists always say (even after they are defeated at the polls time and again).

    This bill makes such perfect sense! If the concern genuinely is “knowing” this food or that food does not contain GMO then the testing and labeling should identify those few boutique foods that scrupulously do not contain GMO, not a “may contain GMO” label stuck to 90% of foods on the shelf.

    Let’s hope common sense can prevail over Luddite nonsense, once and for all time on this silly non-issue.

  • calvin

    How sad that this critical issue has been left in the hands of the Right wing Congress. Known best for being for sale to corporations, they would gladly poison your children if it means a new Mercedes. This is a state issue, best left there. Let your vote be the same as your driving. If you want to go backward, choose “R”. You want to go forward, choose “D”. Stop the rape of our country and the abuse of our citizens by moneyed interests.

  • MN Born

    GMO labeling mandates aren’t about GMO safety, they are about a consumer desire for more transparency.

  • jimt5101

    The American people deserve to know exactly from where their food came or who processed it and what ingredients/chemicals have been added to it. There are several government agencies (associated with food safety) set up to ensure our food is, above all, safe to consume. Let them earn their money. Does anyone want food that has been processed in Asia or the Middle East. I know I don’t.

  • Cynthia

    Just when I had about given up on congress they redeem themselves with an intelligent move. If I was concerned about GMOs (I’m not, of course because they are safe and sensible) I would want to be able to identify foods that do NOT contain GMO, right? So, there’s the label we’re looking for – the label that identifies foods that do NOT contain GMO.

    Heck, labeling the majority of foods with some idiotic statement; “may or may not contain GMO ingredients” not only does not help me “know” anything worth knowing, but it turns my quest to get in the store, find the GMO-free food and get out of the store into a hunt for the needle in the haystack.

    So practical, this idea of GMO-free labeling. Difficult to believe congressmen thought of it.

  • DPrty

    Pompeo received $80,000 in donations from Koch Industries and its employees, one of the world’s largest privately held companies, and based in his district,[7] making him the top recipient of Koch-related money in the 2010 elections.[7]

  • DPrty

    North Carolina Democrat Rep. G.K. Butterfield Earmark near personal property: $817,500

    Butterfield has helped obtain $817,500 over the past few years toward revitalizing buildings in Wilson, N.C. The lawmaker owns 19 properties within three-quarters of a mile of the project.

  • 31001cm

    Just look at some of these negative comments. Isn’t this just like anti-GMO activists nincompoops? I mean they finally get congress to waste its time mucking about in a silly hypochondriac kabuki theater around the imagined evil of technology in agriculture, activists will possibly get their precious NO GMO label and now they whine and cry it is no good — they need a different label. Just another fine example of moving the goalposts, the classic go to move for cranks and quacks.

    http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/move+the+goalposts

    • MN Born

      Bitter Town, population: you.

    • Grant Freeman

      The evils of GMO farming haven’t been imagined, more so revealed. A NO GMO label was never the intent, at least with most people fighting this, because a NO GMO label will just turn into something similar to a “all natural” or “cage free” or “no artificial flavoring” label, which we all know are blatant lies. A company blurring the lines between it’s genetically modified, cancerous food and real food to make a profit at the expense of public health is worth a rumble in congress.

  • Debbie Owen

    Not all organic and non-GMO are labeled as such so we have to assume it is GMO even when it might not be, this limits our choices and shows us why voluntary labels aren’t good enough. Don’t pre-empt state rights, just make it mandatory and label it all GMO, non-GMO or organic.

    • Captain Obvious

      If one certifies and labels “non-GMO”, as the bill ordains, then the divine purpose is accomplished. That is the only efficient and practical means of informing consumers, though what of value, exactly, is being stated by such labeling is a true mystery. Pointless to label all the remaining stuff, some 80% of the abundant, safe, affordable food we have safely enjoyed for years. Otherwise might as well also label any food that may have been handled by any left-handed people. Some lefties are criminals, after all, and it is my right to know where my food comes from so I can keep my family safe. Same with color of any trucks or tractors that may have been involved in producing or hauling my food. Yellow and red are believed by 95% of Americans to be the most dangerous colors, by the way, closely followed by orange and green. Silver is the only safe color, in fact it confers curative properties on foods. So we are only getting started on this business of labeling foods, don’t you think? And HR 1599 is a good beginning, no?

      • It’s voluntary. That makes it worthless.

        • Uncle Sam 2.0

          Huh?

          Are you suggesting it must be left up to each state to volunteer its own mandatory one-off labeling requirements? And such a dodgy strategy is not “worthless”, to say nothing of confusing and chaotic?

          Are you now demanding all foods that do not contain GMO must be labeled as such because discretion on the part of the seller could let some GMO-free products fall through the cracks, leading to some unstated cataclysmic event?

          Methinks your agenda is dangerously exposed by your resistance to a national GMO food labeling law you have been campaigning for all along. Has GMO technology suddenly changed? Has congress done an about face on this issue? Or are you merely flip-flopping around to protect some alternative motive? What is wrong with you? Sheesh, talk about worthless.

          • I’m still trying to extract something meaningful to respond to in your comment. Perhaps a little more coherence, a little less sneer next time you write a comment.

        • Kānāwai Māmalahoe

          The purpose of this bill is to take away the rights of farmers to grow non-gmo crops without contamination.

          Maui voted for Independent Tests on GMO here at the global testing center and Monsanto needs this law to win the appeal of their suit against the voters.

          They amended this DARK act into the mother of Monsanto protection acts. The traitors in congress are trying to ignore the tenth amendment and claim states can’t even regulate GMO fields with this Orwellian named bill.

      • Debbie Owen

        The problem is that it’s just voluntary, so it’s not good enough. Reread my comment. If you want labels for any food handled by left handed people or for colors then you can make that your cause. Good luck with that.

        • connect the dots or shove off

          So who’s not going to step up and “volunteer” to label their product as non-GMO if it qualifies? You all make it sound like foods without GMO are friggin priceless so no producer will fail to step right up and pass that vital “knowledge” on the the consumer via one of these new labels. Greed will see to that, will it not? And so what if a couple of non-GMO products don’t get voluntarily labeled? Please explain how that will mean the sky is falling. All this whining over the thing being “voluntary” — so what — what is your concern, exactly? What is your point??

          • Grant Freeman

            When you have a policy that is voluntary, a company will opt with the option that is either more profitable or reflects positively on them to the right people. Public health or ethics have nothing to do with it. Non-GMO labels add a manufacturing fee as well as opens the opportunity for companies to lie about it, since they already lie about other labels. So now you have localized definitions of GMO-free food, meaning places more receptive to GMOs may not opt to label their modified food. It creates a great amount of grey area, which is what Monsanto wants; for you to forget it’s even in there.

      • Carson

        AND HFCS will be labeled non-GMO! This bill is a farce.

  • My take on this

    http://burningbird.net/corporate-food-production-interests-yank-chains-congress-quaking-fear-vermont-gmo-bill

    Do please note the irony of the House voting to ban states from passing GMO labeling laws, at the same time the Senate is passing an amendment requiring that genetically altered salmon be labeled GMO salmon.

    • Uncle Sam 2.0

      And Shelley’s take on this – “worthless”.

      Shabby self promotion. Snake oil.

      • I’m hurt to the quick by your erudite and thoughtful comment.

        Oh, whoa is me, how can I possibly keep up with such debating skills.

      • I find it intriguing that you’ve only commented twice, both to this story.

        Have you ever heard the term “sock puppet”?

  • Nancy Ebbert

    I baffled as to why this is so hard to understand. Regardless of its safety or lack thereof, I have a basic right to know what I am eating. I prefer to eat food that is not poisoned in the process of being grown. I’m against Roundup and a plethora of other herbicides and pesticides. I believe these products are bad for the environment and intrinsically bad for living things. A simple label allows me to make a choice. You don’t have to agree with my reasoning just as I don’t have to agree with yours but there is something very basic about choosing what I eat.

    • New Day Dawning

      So, support the passage of this bill and voila, you will no longer encounter any difficulty identifying those foods that are free of those nasty GMO boogiemen that frighten you so. Just look for the new “certified non-GMO” label, which finally will be authenticated and enforced so there will be no cheating, no chance of exposure to this one scary apparition of modern technology, at least.

      It really couldn’t be easier, Nancy, just easy peasy, no? Contact your congresspersons and insist they get this bill into law. Sooner it gets enacted the sooner you will have those labels that tell you what you really want to know: that this product is certified GMO-free. It just doesn’t get any better than that, does it? Finally, order from chaos. Let’s all urge our congressional representatives to get this bill passed and funded!

      • Carson

        Seriously? Vote NO on #HR1599. It’s another Monsanto Protection Act.

      • Nancy Ebbert

        I have done so. Multiple times.

      • LP

        What you are proposing is, that because GMO has become so inextricably integrated into our food chain, mainly because political will and influence or lack of it, that Moronsanto and others are now completely off the hook huh? Soooo asbestos, lead paint, DDT and all the rest that we thought were just fine for us should get a second chance? Or maybe, according to you, every similar insulation, finish and insecticide should be labeled “cerified asbestos free, etc, etc.
        Moronsanto put the cart before the horse and you are doing it again.
        Label the mutated organism we are expected to eat not the produce as God intended it. The circus has a sign on a tent that says sideshow freaks that means birth defects and mutations. We don’t all carry signs that say “normal person”. GMO will be seen has one of the greatest crimes against nature ever perpetrated and mutant product that is the result should bear the sign not all the normal stuff.

    • RonaldRaven2016

      The food is exactly the same you already eat. There is no benefit here.

      • Robert

        It isn’t food. It is poison

  • Erikson

    A new study published today in the peer-reviewed journal AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES reveals genetic engineering of soy disrupts the plant’s natural ability to control stress, and invalidates the FDA’s current regulatory framework of “substantial equivalence” used for approval of genetically engineered food (GMOs).

    The study, led by Dr. V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, Ph.D., an MIT-trained systems biologist, utilizes his latest invention, CytoSolve, a 21st century systems biology method to integrate 6,497 in vitro and in vivo laboratory experiments, from 184 scientific institutions, across 23 countries, to discover the accumulation of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, and a dramatic depletion of glutathione, an anti-oxidant necessary for cellular detoxification, in GMO soy, indicating that formaldehyde and glutathione are likely critical criteria for distinguishing the GMO from its non-GMO counterpart.

    Dr. Ayyadurai stated, “The results demand immediate testing along with rigorous scientific standards to assure such testing is objective and replicable. It’s unbelievable such standards for testing do not already exist. The safety of our food supply demands that science deliver such modern scientific standards for approval of GMOs.”

    “The discovery reported by Dr. Ayyadurai reveals a new molecular paradigm associated with genetic engineering that will require research to discover why, and how much formaldehyde and glutathione concentration, and what other cellular chemicals relevant to human and animal health, are altered. We need the kinds of standards Dr. Ayyadurai demands to conduct such research,” stated Dr. Ray Seidler, a former EPA Senior Scientist. “Formaldehyde is a known class1 carcinogen.Its elevated presence in soybeans caused by a common genetic engineering event is alarming and deserves immediate attention and action from the FDA and the Obama administration. Soy is widely grown and consumed in the U.S., including by infants fed baby food products, with 94% of soy grown here being genetically engineered,” declared Seidler.

    The study concludes the U.S. government’s current standards for safety assessment of GMOs, based on the principle of “substantial equivalence,” is outdated and unscientific for genetically engineered food since it was originally developed for assessing the safety of medical devices in the 1970s. The current criteria for assessing “equivalence” considers only basic nutritional and superficial characteristics such as taste, sight, smell and touch, for declaring GMOs safe for human consumption, allowing them to be fast-tracked to market without independent scientific testing. If formaldehyde and glutathione were criteria, then the GMO would likely not be deemed “equivalent” to its non-GMO counterpart. This finding calls into question the FDA’s food safety standards for the entire country.

    Edit (in 2 minutes)

  • Rena Kennedy

    Why does Monsanto spend millions each year to defeat label laws? If their products are so safe, they’ve paid all the right scientists, then they should be bragging about their fabulous science by labeling it with it’s correct origins. Their arguments are bullshit. It doesn’t cost farmers anymore to label them, so the new argument is “simplicity” I don’t know about you, but I pay a shit load in taxes for my elected officials to do their job. Represent me, and lable food with it’s correct origins. Go ahead and troll this post now Monsanto. I look forward to speaking with more of your payroll morons whom cannot answer my questions.

    • MN Born

      Monsanto is taking out multipage ads in Parents magazine to sell GMO. They are spending money in every direction to keep doing business and regulation the way they want to. Nothing “simple” about any of this.

  • Ken Gallaher

    Big-GMO aspires to be like the big banks: “too big to fail”.
    So they keep charging into the unknown aspiring to own the world’s food.
    When it crashes famine follows.

  • Carson

    Just a voice vote? No discussion? What a farce. HR 1599 is not about labeling GMOs. It’s about making sure GMOs are not labeled.

  • Ken Gallaher

    Big-GMO aspires to be like the banksters: “too big to fail”.
    So they keep charging into the unknown aspiring to own the world’s food.
    When it crashes world-wide famine follows.
    But the stockholders made money.

  • MarkDonners

    There must be a blanket one hundred percent ban on GMO and its associated lethal pesticides and herbicides since they are dangerous poisons. Eating genetically modified corn (GM corn) and consuming trace levels of Monsanto’s Roundup chemical fertilizer caused rats to develop horrifying tumors, widespread organ damage, and premature death. rats exposed to even the smallest amounts, “developed mammary tumors and severe liver and kidney damage as early as four months in males, and seven months for females.” The animals on the GM diet suffered mammary tumors, as well as severe liver and kidney damage. Everywhere GMO is being grown, food allergies, disorders such as autism, reproductive disorders, digestive problems, and others have been skyrocketing in the human populations.

    There has been a drastic decline of crop-pollinating insects all over the world, and what this means for the future of the world’s food supply. Wild pollinators like bumblebees, butterflies, and beetles are basically disappearing. GMO industrial agricultural practices are causing this insect genocide. Pollinating insects in general, which include a wide range of insects and other animals, are simply vanishing from their normal habitats and foraging areas. That lower diversity and lower abundance of wild insects means less fruits and destruction of the diversity of plants and their fruits worldwide.

    GMOs cross pollinate and their seeds can travel. It is impossible to fully clean up our contaminated gene pool. Self-propagating GMO pollution will outlast the effects of global warming and nuclear waste. The potential impact is huge, threatening the health of future generations. GMO contamination has also caused economic losses for organic and non-GMO farmers who often struggle to keep their crops pure.

    GMOs increase herbicide use. Most GM crops are engineered to be “herbicide tolerant”―surviving deadly weed killers. Monsanto, for example, sells Roundup Ready crops, designed to survive applications of their Roundup herbicide. Between 1996 and 2008, US farmers sprayed an extra 383 million pounds of herbicide on GMOs. Overuse of Roundup results in “superweeds,” resistant to the herbicide. This is causing farmers to use even more toxic herbicides every year. Not only does this create environmental harm, GM foods contain higher residues of toxic herbicides. Roundup, for example, is linked with sterility, hormone disruption, birth defects, and cancer.

    GM crops and their associated herbicides can harm birds, insects, amphibians, marine ecosystems, and soil organisms. They reduce bio-diversity, pollute water resources, and are unsustainable. For example, GM crops are eliminating habitat for monarch butterflies, whose populations are down 50% in the US. Roundup herbicide has been shown to cause birth defects in amphibians, embryonic deaths and endocrine disruptions, and organ damage in animals even at very low doses. GM canola has been found growing wild in North Dakota and California, threatening to pass on its herbicide tolerant genes on to weeds.

    By mixing genes from totally unrelated species, genetic engineering unleashes a host of unpredictable side effects. Moreover, irrespective of the type of genes that are inserted, the very process of creating a GM plant can result in massive collateral damage that produces new toxins, allergens, carcinogens, and nutritional deficiencies.

    GMOs do NOT increase yields, and work against feeding a hungry world.

    Whereas sustainable non-GMO agricultural methods used in developing countries have conclusively resulted in yield increases of 79% and higher, GMOs do not, on average, increase yields at all. This was evident in the Union of Concerned Scientists’ 2009 report Failure to Yield―the definitive study to date on GM crops and yield.

    The toxins associated with GMO should never be tolerated. NEONICOTINOID PESTICIDE neurotoxins are absolutely the main factor causing the collapse of bee and pollinator populations along with other lethal chemicals, Agent Orange herbicides, glysophate, etc. When these poisons are banned as they were in Europe the bee populations start to recover. GMO neonicotinoids, roundup etc. MUST BE BANNED OUTRIGHT and all the farmers along with USDA, Biotech and chemical companies told to cease and desist from what they are doing.

    An even scarier prospect: the “BT” version of GMO soybeans and corn, (basically pesticides engineered directly into the plant )

    The “BT toxin” gene is put into the DNA of the corn in order for it to manufacture its own toxins that kill pests. The BT gene originated from a soil bacteria that also infiltrates the microflora (friendly digestive bacteria) in your gut. The Bt gene converts the microflora in your intestine into toxin-manufacturing machines.

    So, to be clear, eating GMO corn products can cause yourgut (which is primarily responsible for keeping you healthy) to turn into a breeding ground for tiny little pesticide factories inside your body, actively creating toxins which are designed to kill living things. These toxins are found in the blood and are readily transferred across the placenta to developing babies in the womb.

    • MN Born

      Preach! I think most people don’t stop to consider the dangers of how genes are isolated for modification. These things matter. They bear consideration. They require research. Making a buck on this generation at the expense of future generations needs to stop.

  • Robert

    This stuff is poison, and not food. I ate an Hawaiian papaya and got a terrible stomach ache , I couldn’t figure it out. Then later found out it is GMO.
    I ate a potato last night and got a stomach ache that lasted 8 hours. Could hardly sleep.
    These potatoes even look sick. They do not grow buds. And they are poison.
    When there is no more real food we will all die. The future looks grim.

  • Denny

    Cross pollination is not the only danger with GMOs!!!

    To say that GMOs are safe is a huge lie. A personal friend who is an extremely talented organic gardening instructor, Lynn Hoag, had a run in with GMOs. He planted a tomato patch to raise funds for a mission project. He was careful to source his fertilizer from a horse ranch that did not use chemicals and antibiotics and only fed organic feeds, or so he thought.

    To shorten the story, he was not able to get the manure until he had planted all except the last row. The ONLY difference between the last row and the other rows was the addition of a shovel ful of well aged manure to each hole. About a week later he started noticing a difference between the last row and all of the others. The last row was stunted and producing twisted stems without leaves. Again to shorten, the last row eventually produced some twisted leaves and did produce some fruit. But when he tasted it it did not even resemble a tomato and tasted awful.

    After much research back up the chain, the hay supplier had inadvertantly been shipped GMO alfalfa instead of organic alfalfa and had not disclosed it to its customers.

    The hay was not grown within 100 miles of the tomato patch, had been processed through horses digestive system, been aged in a giant manure pile, and was only in contact with the roots of the tomato plants, yet it managed to mutate them even after they had been started in pots over six weeks before. He dug up and burned that row.

    The tomato plants were not the only thing affected. Weeds would not grow around the manure pile for a full year. When they did finally grow, they were twisted and mutated like the tomato plants were. I saw them! Again, cross pollination is not the only danger with GMOs!!! It did that to plants, what is it doing to us?