Consumers’ choice? Food labeling matters
May 1, 2013 —
The food fight over genetically engineered (GE) agricultural products in what we eat is heating up again.
Last week, the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. It would require food manufacturers to clearly label any product containing genetically modified organisms (GMO), also called GE organisms, or risk having that product classified “misbranded” by the Food and Drug Administration. Senator Kirsten Gellibrand (D/NY) is one of nine co-sponsors of the Senate bill. There are 22 co-sponsors of the House version.
You can expect Big Ag and Big Biotech to fight back.
Last November, California’s ballot initiative Prop 37, which required GMO labeling, failed to pass after the industry spent more than $40 million to help defeat it. Now comes a similar ballot initiative in Washington State. In total, two dozen states are taking up the issue. On April 3, a GMO labeling law was introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate and, earlier this year, two different bills were introduced in the New York State House and Senate (www.centerforfoodsafety.org/issues/976/ge-food-labeling/state-labeling-i...).
On the other side, in Missouri, home of biotech giant Monsanto, a bill has been introduced to add a new section to the Missouri Constitution with language about protecting the “right of farmers and ranchers to employ modern agricultural technology.” What the language really addresses are genetically modified seeds and animals. Anti-GMO groups are calling this the “Missouri Monsanto Protection Act.”
Recently, President Obama signed a federal version of a “Monsanto Protection Act,” as it is called by opponents. (It was attached as a rider to a spending bill aimed at preventing a government shutdown.) As the International Business Times reports (www.ibtimes.com/monsanto-protection-act-5-terrifying-things-know-about-h...), the law “effectively bars federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of GMO or GE crops and seeds, no matter what health consequences from the consumption of these products may come to light in the future.”