Last month, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (I) introduced an amendment to the Agriculture Reform, Jobs and Food Act of 2013 (aka Farm Bill) that would allow states to require labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food. It failed in the Senate, 71-27 (2 not voting).
What was surprising was the number of supporters of states rights and supporters of consumer information who voted AGAINST the bill. Included among the “nays” were Elizabeth Warren (MA-D), Sherrod Brown (OH-D), Al Franken (MN-D) and others.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT-I) said afterward that he would continue to push for Congress to make it clear that states may require the labels. The Vermont House passed a labeling bill in May, putting the state at the forefront of the effort. Similar legislation is pending this year in 26 other statehouses around the country. “The people of Vermont and the people of America have a right to know what's in the food that they eat,” Sanders said.
Was this amendment a poison pill? Would there have been enough opposition to labeling GMOs to sink food stamps? farm subsidies? job seeking programs? We don’t know. But the House of Representatives has approved an amendment (Steve King, R-IA) that reject states authority that may require GMO labeling. And what is the will of the people? Do you want to know what is in your food?
According to the Organic Consumers Association, Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) have admitted privately that they've "lost the battle" to stop genetically engineered (GE) food labeling at the state level, now that states are aggressively moving forward on labeling laws. On May 14, Maine's House Ag Committee passed a GMO labeling law. On May 10, the Vermont House passed a labeling bill, 99-42, despite massive lobbying by Monsanto and threats to sue the state. And though Monsanto won a razor-thin victory (51 percent to 49 percent) in a costly, hard fought California GMO labeling ballot initiative last November, biotech and Big Food now realize that Washington State voters will likely pass I-522, an upcoming ballot initiative to label GE foods, on November 5. "If Monsanto can't stop states from passing laws, then the next step is a national preemptive measure," Cummins said. "And all signs point to just such a power grab."
This appears to be another showdown of money in politics trampling on states rights...and we’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share them with us on the show today...or in the comments below.