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Insult to Injury: Lawmakers Fight to Preempt GMO Labeling

February 25, 2016 | Katherine Paul

Organic Consumers Association

First, they injure us with their GMOs and toxic pesticides. Then they insult our intelligence.

Unable to reach a compromise and/or get the votes they needed this week, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry postponed action on a federal bill to preempt Vermont’s GMO labeling law until Tuesday, March 1.

Perpetrators of the bill, which is full of holes according to the latest legal analysis, are having trouble gaining bipartisan support.

But it’s only a matter of time. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) bill to kill GMO labeling will likely be the subject of a heated Ag Committee debate next week, where Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and others will push for a compromise aimed at keeping Vermont’s law from taking effect July 1.

Meanwhile USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Rep. Robert Alderholt (R-Ala.) and Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) were making the media rounds, spreading lies and fear, extolling the virtues of GMOs, and insulting the intelligence of consumers by claiming that we “just need more education.”

First, Vilsack told PoliticoPro that if Vermont’s law isn’t stopped it will “create chaotic circumstances” for the food industry—curious, given that none of the other 100-plus state food labeling laws have ever caused chaos. Later that day, Vilsack insulted consumers when he told Agri-Pulse:

“This very system-which produces the most abundant, the highest quality, and the most affordable food supply in the world-will be threatened with large economic costs without a national uniform solution to the biotech labeling issue.”

Vilsack also raised the bogus cost issue again, even though it’s been debunked time and again, and finally put to rest by Campbell’s Soup Co.’s announcement that it will label GMO foods at no cost to consumers.

Alderholt also chimed in on the “education of consumers. He was quoted in PoliticoPro as admonishing the FDA other federal agencies that they “need to do a better job educating consumers on the safety of GMO foods.”

Ag Committee member Donnelly also spoke to PolitcoPro this week, and like Stabenow, pushed for a compromise that would include a combination of delaying Vermont and allowing food corporations to opt for QR codes instead of on-package labels.

This past week more than 600 food companies, supermarket chains, food and feed groups signed a letter supporting Roberts’ bill, once again arguing that we can’t have a “patchwork” of state law,  and once again positing that the only alternative is a “uniform federal labeling solution” that is voluntary, not mandatory. As if companies that have spent millions of dollars to guard their “right” to hide GMO ingredients will ever voluntarily disclose those ingredients.

Stay tuned.

TAKE ACTION: Call your Senators today! Tell them no compromise on GMO labeling!

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If you live in Michigan, contact Sen. Stabenow

More on Stabenow’s role

If you live in Indiana, contact Sen. Donnelly