The Sneaky Way Congress Wants to Help 'Big Food' Manipulate GMO Labels
The Sneaky Way Congress Wants to Help 'Big Food' Manipulate GMO Labels
When politicians talk about 'clarity for consumers,' you know you'd better watch out.
March 26, 2015 By Jason Best
Don’t underestimate the power of the DARK side. The congressional duo who have been trying to pass legislation that would prevent states from enacting GMO-labeling laws—and nullify those already on the books—are back.
Reps. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., and G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., announced Wednesday that they are reintroducing their euphemistically named Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act—or what critics have effectively derided as the Denying Americans the Right-to-Know (DARK) Act.
Just like its official title, the bill sounds reasonable enough: In its newest iteration, it would establish a federally sanctioned label that companies could use to market their products as GMO-free, so long as they have completed a certification process that would be overseen by the Department of Agriculture.
That’s decidedly not what GMO-labeling activists have been agitating for. For starters, they want to see food that contains GMO ingredients labeled as such—a warning label, in effect, not a marketing tool. You don’t have to be a cynic to wonder what else might be lurking in the bill when you hear how members of Congress are talking about it.
“Our goal for this legislation remains to provide clarity and transparency in food labeling, support innovation, and keep food affordable,” Pompeo said in a release—with a notable lack of irony for a Republican advocating federal legislation that would trump states’ rights.
He’s echoed by his friend across the aisle, Butterfield, who intoned, “This bill will provide clear rules for producers and certainty for consumers at the grocery store checkout lane.”
What their joint press release fails to mention is that their bill would continue to allow companies to “voluntarily” choose to label products made with GMOs. But as the Environmental Working Group points out, that voluntary labeling program hasn’t been a smashing success. In the 14 years since the Food and Drug Administration issued draft guidelines for it, how many manufacturers do you think have signed up to tell consumers, “Hey, look, our products are made with GMOs”? None.
The so-called DARK Act would also override GMO-labeling laws that have already been passed in at least three states, and it would prohibit any other state from passing its own law requiring companies to label.
Make no mistake: That’s the real intention here. Pompeo and Butterfield may talk about “clarity” and “certainty for consumers,” but when you think of it, what could be more certain and clear than a label that essentially says, “This product in your hand was made with GMO ingredients”? As for saving consumers money, the pols take a page from the big food lobby, which has spent millions battling GMO-labeling initiatives in a number of states—by trying to scare consumers into believing that mandatory disclosure of GMO ingredients would hike the average family’s grocery bill by $500 per year. A study by Consumers Union last fall said it would be more like $9 per year for a family of four.
If Pompeo and Butterfield’s proposed “GMO-free” labeling system overseen by the USDA sounds a bit familiar, that’s because it is. We already have a GMO-free label, in effect. It’s called “Organic.” And that’s where the debate gets really interesting.
As GMO-labeling advocates point out, the vast majority of Americans say they want to know what’s in the food they eat; by some measures, 90 percent support mandatory labeling of foods with genetically engineered ingredients. Yet if that desire to know were so strong—a desire that presumes a significant degree of wariness about GMO crops—how is it that we’ve come to live in a country where 85 percent of corn and 91 percent of the soybeans grown are genetically modified? By certain estimates, 75 percent of the processed food in our grocery stores already contains genetically modified ingredients.
Let’s face it: I’d venture that the majority of consumers spend more time watching cat videos on YouTube than taking the time to understand where their food comes from, what’s healthy to eat, and what’s healthy for the planet. After all, a Consumer Reports survey found 64 percent of Americans believed that the more or less meaningless label “natural” on a food product meant that it didn’t contain GMOs. Might it be that it’s time we stop letting labels doing the work for us and start really getting to know our food?
Finally good science based legislation.
Most people would prefer knowing what's in their food and where it comes from, just like they like to have an ingredient list and with products listing the amount of sugar, salt, fats, calories, etc.
Why shouldn't GMO products be labeled as such?
People have a right to chose what they wish to purchase with their money.
What are GMO's so afraid of? I think it's insidious that these mega corporations don't wish to honestly label their products as such and are willing to spend millions to fight it. It's also insidious that so much of our food already is genetically engineered and we don't even know it.
We obviously can tell whose pockets Pompeo and G.K. Butterfield are in.
Here's an article about Vermont's battle to have GMO products labeled.
In case you missed it, here's a disturbing article and video about Argentina's soybean production.
“A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves.” Bertrand De Jouvenel
Why won't organic foods label what pesticides are used? Labeling is nothing more than fear mongering. It is all a marketing ploy.
They do not list all pesticides used. Full disclosure.
Alana we have been eating genetically modified foods for hundreds of years. You wouldn't recognize a banana in a "natural" state. This new phase of modification is the obvious next step. What is the fear about it? I'm trying to make breakfast for baby, I'll check links in a bit
I see a lot of anecdotal evidence in Al Jazeera report. I have just as much. My baby is not deformed, his mom ate a lot of eggs during pregnancy. Obviously eggs prevent birth defects.
Alana this is all about money. On both sides of the issue. Whole Foods has a revenue very close to Monsanto. It is all about protecting market share.
If people want to eat non GMO and organic I do not have a problem with that. My problem is the people pushing this "natural" lifestyle have the disposable income that 90% of the world doesn't have, they have never known hunger, and use food to shame others.
This new age return to nature stuff perplexes me. So many people are determined to bring this world back to the Middle Ages with a ridiculous diet and vaccine denials.
I stand by science 100% of the time. Global warming is real. Vaccines are safe and effective. GMOs are not only safe and nutritious but also stand the best chance to feed an ever growing population.
I'm not a New Ager nor am I pushing a natural lifestyle.
I'm all for vaccines, I believe in global warming and many other things.I believe in being an advocate for different species of flora and fauna. I believe in the fact that many of these GMO and Pesticide producing corporations value their profit above all else, sad to say.
Look at all the pesticides/chemicals that have been deemed harmful after they were in use for years. Look at all the harm they created while in use before, finally, being banned.
Look how long it took them to get banned.
What I don't like is the fact that we spray millions of gallons, maybe billions of gallons, of pesticides on our planet annually. There are consequences.
What I don't like is the fact that these genetically modified seeds are developed to withstand high pesticide use and high pesticide use is in use.
What I don't like is that EPA and other government regulatory agencies have to spend years or decades, in some cases, to prove certain chemicals are poisoning us, the air we breathe, our waters, our wildlife and land before they can deregulate them.
What I don't like is that these mega chemical and GMO companies don't have to prove, without doubt, their products are safe over the long term.
What I don't like is the attempt to mislead the public and consumers by not properly labeling the food products we buy.
I seriously doubt any of us would choose to live in close proximity to the GMO fields that are heavily sprayed with any pesticides, their ventilated silos and run the risks of the types of exposure presented in the video, anecdotal evidence or not.
There are consequences.
Well GMOs have been eaten safely for years. Overall pesticide use is down (I will grant that glyphosate use is up). This also has other benefits, less tilling which both protects the soil from erosion but also reduces the use of fossil fuels. The UK is seeing serious yield losses after their neonicitinoids ban. The idea that we can increase yields to feed an ever growing population is something I will always get behind.
We can just agree to disagree, as is usual.
Actually I agree with you quite often about politics. Just not science.
If you have time read about Norman Borlaug.
A fascinating scientist.
Awarded Nobel Peace Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal
"It is a sad fact that on this earth at this late date there are still two worlds, "the privileged world" and "the forgotten world". The privileged world consists of the affluent, developed nations, comprising twenty-five to thirty percent of the world population, in which most of the people live in a luxury never before experienced by man outside the Garden of Eden. The forgotten world is made up primarily of the developing nations, where most of the people, comprising more than fifty percent of the total world population, live in poverty, with hunger as a constant companion and fear of famine a continual menace."
In 1970 he said this
"now say that the world has the technology – either available or well advanced in the research pipeline – to feed on a sustainable basis a population of 10 billion people. The more pertinent question today is whether farmers and ranchers will be permitted to use this new technology? While the affluent nations can certainly afford to adopt ultra low-risk positions, and pay more for food produced by the so-called “organic” methods, the one billion chronically undernourished people of the low income, food-deficit nations cannot."
Like the undernourished, poor surrounded by the soy fields in Argentina whose doctors on the ground in those communities see an increase in mortality and malformation rates?
Would you choose to have your family live anywhere near GMO fields that are subject to huge amounts of pesticidal spraying?
I read in an article somewhere that makers of Round-up said it was safe enough to drink but when a CEO was presented with a glass full, he asked the interviewer if he was crazy and left the interview. (Yes, that's anecdotal.)
I'm not 100% against GMO products but I am against such incredible amounts of pesticide use. I believe all products should be labeled, GMO, Organic or not, and give a consumer the information to choose what they wish. If they wish.
It is the poor, in undeveloped countries that are the targets of these corporations that ultimately pay the price in being displaced out of their indigenous lands and poisoned by the very same entities and their governments that say they're doing so for those people's own good.
Maybe instead of poisoning a planet, we should be educating people on the use of birth control and reducing a runaway population?
Here's part of an email I just received:
"It’s been a big news week for the GMO labeling movement.
The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that Roundup causes cancer.
The New York Times reported that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has known this all along, but failed to act.
And Congress just reintroduced a bill, written by Monsanto and Big Food, intended to take away your right to know about GMOs. Permanently.
Never has it been more urgent to get labels on GMO foods.
And never has it been more obvious that the federal government has no intention of protecting consumers from the risks associated with GMO foods—including the fact that nearly all of them are grown with glyphosate, a known carcinogen.
It’s up to us. We have to act before it’s too late.
Late last week, WHO released its findings that glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, “probably” causes cancer.
Days later, a new report surfaced that linked to official EPA documents showing that in 1985, the EPA classified glyphosate as a Class C carcinogen. Six years later, just about the time former Monsanto lawyer Michael Taylor got himself installed in a key position at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the EPA reversed that decision.
Thanks to the FDA, in the early 1990s GMOs were (illegally, according to some experts) classified as “substantially equivalent” to non-GMO foods and “Generally Recognized as Safe”—a classification that exempts them from any pre-market safety testing.
Since then, a long list of credible scientists have challenged the safety of GMO foods. But this much is irrefutable: Monsanto’s glyphosate is the cornerstone of GMO crops (whether those crops go into human food products, animal feed or biofuels). Glyphosate causes cancer. And the FDA, EPA and USDA have failed to protect us from what they’ve known all along is a cancer-causing toxin, widely used on our food, and prevalent in our drinking water."
First off. The guy was not and is not associated with monsanto. He is a proponent of Golden Rice however. Second.. "Probably causes cancer" is just one step below alcohol which is a known carcinogen. Their is a chemical in potatoes which when fried also "probably causes cancer" guess what? GMOS are trying to eliminate that chemical. I would have zero problem living with my family next to a farm. None. I agree with you on the birth control part.. That is linked to food and vaccines though. People had and have many children because so many die from disease and starvation. Fix the food is a huge part of the equation
Whoa multiple posts.
Aldicarb I have never heard of so I cannot comment. Chlorpyrifos I have experience with. It was banned for household use because people and children could possibly come into contact with it. It is a great contact insecticide and has not been replaced with an equally good replacement. It is safe in use on agriculture because it is not persistent. It does not get into fruits and vegetables. The only risk is to those applying it. I am not sure what knowledge you have of pesticides outside what you read but I would be happy to share with you my experiences. I have been a certified pesticide applicator for 20 years. Chlorpyrfiros is an organophosphate insecticide. They are a very old class of insecticides. They can be cholinesterase inhibitors but they are applied at low rates. I have applied it at 1 pint per acre and it is a 42% chlorpyrifos jug. That is an extremely low mix when you consider that 1 pint is mixed in 100 gallons of water. I really think many people think that just straight 100% pesticides are applied to control disease, insects and weeds. The science is getting better, as a matter of fact Dow has a new insecticide that does not even contain a Caution, Warning, Danger label that is the standard to describe the relative danger of pesticide. Chlorpyrifos actually only has a WARNING label.
As for "other countries ban it" I do not put much weight I to that argument. Other countries kill homosexuals and behead people for following wrong religion..
Hi Alana, May I suggest an opening paragraph about the subject and why you think it needs a read?? I don't click on anything I don't know about. Thanks.
PS....I don't trust Congress or "big food", but there is a a lot of propaganda out there.
i side with alana on this issue. if you have nothing to fear-then label it as such. why is monsanto suing farmers when monsanto seeds blow into their yard? why have certain things been on the rise ? allergies, autism, obesity, auto immune diseases.......
there is still so much that is not know. monsanto is afraid for the consumer to know the truth, why?
Correlation does not equal causation.
Do you really think organic food is to blame? I mean I presented a graph showing it..
You, me, everyone has been eating GMOS for 20+ years. GMOs are not an ingredient and labeling as such does nothing but stigmatize biotechnology. You already pay a ridiculous premium for nonsense organic. Let the GMO free people label.
Monsanto is not the only company involved in GMOs. They get unfairly blamed often. They; however, are not without blame. Their PR team is terrible. Their litigation team is a joke. Their science is sound and backed by the overwhelming majority of all scientists. I honestly do not think any of those myriad of ailments you listed are on the "rise" ASD has evolved since original diagnosises. If you look at "symptoms" I probably would now fall in the "spectrum". Obesity has WAY more to do with a sendintary lifestyle than foods.
organic foods were around way before our time. so i do not buy the correlation between the increase in organic food and the increase in autism.
think about how things were grown before all this stuff.
and why oh why do they now feel the need to put soy in everything that never needed soy before
I don't eat soy. Not good for men. I guess I use soy sauce but that is it. Organic was grown long ago because we didn't have 7 billion mouths to feed. Also the original "farmers" lived to around 32. Science fixed that.