Called to Act - August 2016
GMOs: The Struggle Continues
Back in May I wrote a Called to Act Blog with a petition for you to sign asking your Senators to vote against Monsanto’s Dream Bill and to support the Labeling of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). Activists called that bill the DARK Act (Denying Americans the Right to Know). Sadly under pressure from agriculture organizations and food manufacturing associations, the Senate caved to big money and voted for the bill. Even worse, earlier this month, President Obama signed the bill (S.764) into law.
Among other things, this law will put an end to 1) Laws in Vermont, Connecticut and Maine that require the labeling of GMOs, 2) Laws in Vermont and Virginia that require the labeling of seeds, whereby farmers can choose what seeds to buy and plant, and 3) the Law in Alaska that requires the labeling of GMO fish and fish product, meant to protect the state’s fisheries from contamination by recently approved genetically engineered salmon.
The Obama administration justified this dismissal of state rights by claiming that the bill will create national standards for labeling GMOs. The Food and Drug Administration, however, commented that the bill would exempt most current GMO foods from being labeled at all. Some foods will be excluded from consideration depending of the type of genetic engineering used, and foods from livestock like beef, milk, pork, poultry and eggs will not require a GMO label, even if the animal ate GMO corn or soybeans
The law also gives companies the option of using codes that can be scanned by a smart phone or using 1 800 numbers instead of readable GMO labels. Who in the world has the time to scan every item in their shopping cart or make phone calls to find out if food items contain GMOs?!! And, who loses their right to even that access to information? Who are the people with no smart phones? The elderly? Low-income people, many of whom are people of color? Don’t we have laws against discrimination? Are we going to accept this?
The good news is that through our consumer efforts to get GMOs labeled, companies like General Mills, PepsiCo and Kellogg’s have already started labeling their genetically modified foods. They need to hear from us that consumers want them to keep it up.
The 2005 Blauvelt Dominican Corporate Stance called for “a moratorium on the planting of GE crops (GE: genetically engineered, i.e. GMOs) pending environmental and human safety studies. Until such time as this technology is proven safe, all foods containing GE ingredients should be labeled.”
So the struggle continues. I hope you won’t be discouraged and will join us and the millions of others insisting that we have a right to know what’s in our food.
The new law is meant to stop GMO labeling momentum in its tracks. It gives companies the option of using scannable codes or 1-800 numbers instead of easy-to-read GMO labels, and delays the new rules by two years. But many major food companies are already doing the right thing and putting clear labels on food packaging.
Sister Ceil Lavan, OP