The House of Representatives, as expected, voted last week to block states and the FDA from labeling genetically engineered food, as well as to allow food labeled “natural” to continue to contain GMOs. While a setback for GMO labeling efforts, the vote wasn’t the slam dunk the bill’s industry sponsors wanted (see how your member voted here). And that narrower margin was due in large part to the messages, phone calls and Congressional office visits thousands of you made to oppose this bad bill.
Now, the fight goes to the Senate, where Sen. Barbara Boxer, sponsor of a bill to require GMO labeling at the federal level, has vowed to keep the House bill from moving forward. And with your help, we will make sure this bad bill doesn’t pass.
The reality is, House members who voted to block labeling aren’t listening to what their constituents want. In poll after poll, 90 percent of consumers say they want GMOs to be labeled, and 85 percent think foods labeled “natural” should not have genetically engineered ingredients. Usually when consumers want to know about something in their food — trans fats, or whether juice comes from concentrate, government responds and mandates labels.
In this case, Monsanto and the rest of the biotech crop industry — DuPont and Dow Chemical, who make seeds and pesticides, and corn and soybean producers who use their products — have seen the public desire for GMO labeling and are spending huge sums to kill it. They sued the state of Vermont in attempt to block a GMO labeling law from going into effect next July. The case is still ongoing but so far the courts have sided in favor of the law.
In Oregon, industry spent a record-breaking amount on ads to kill a GMO labeling measure on the ballot last fall. The initiative ultimately lost by just 837 votes in a recount. And in last year alone, it’s estimated industry spent more than $63 million to block labeling – triple what it has spent in 2013.
So what does industry have to fear from labeling? Simply put, industry fears giving you a choice. Consumers overwhelmingly want to know if their food is genetically engineered, even if they decide to buy and eat it anyway. But GMO seed and crop producers are concerned about losing market share, and have decided that the solution is to keep you in the dark.
Now it is up to the Senate to decide whether you have a right to know. Hopefully it will be the consumer voice — and not biotech industry money and lobbying — that determines the fate of GMO labeling.