There are signs that the rights of consumers to know what is in their food may be coming to a revolutionary climax. With Vermont ushering in the first unencumbered GMO state labeling law, the skirmish has broadened its fronts from the halls of Washington DC to the fields of Iowa and homes in Oregon.
There are currently two federal legislative bills circulating in Washington DC: Rep. Mike Pompeo ‘s (R-Kansas) bill, which aims to preempt states from requiring labeling of GMO food and prevent the FDA from requiring GE labeling. This has been renamed as the Deny The Right To Know or “Dark Act” by EWG . Urge your representative to appose this bill!
An earlier bill that would require federal labeling of GMO ingredients was introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Peter Defazio (D-Or). This measure would require the FDA to write new standards for mandatory GMO labeling. Everyone should encourage their representative to support the Boxer/DeFazio bill. Just Label It campaign applauded former Congressman Todd Tiahrt for supporting the right to know whether food contains GE ingredients and for opposing legislation that would block states from giving consumers this right. – See more at: http://justlabelit.org/press-room/#PR44
The dialogue has now turned into a national cacophony of voices demanding the right to know what is in the food we eat. Quite frankly, isn’t it wise for retailers and food manufactures to pay attention and heed the voices of the consumer? It’s the consumer who pays the bills.
A recent article in Politico underscores the power consumers have to change food policy, especially through social media. The article notes how Bettina Siegel, a corporate lawyer-turned-school lunch blogger and mom of two, sparked a massive consumer uprising with her laptop asking the Agriculture Department to stop serving “pink slime” to school kids. Online revolts such as these are changing food policy and the entire dynamic between corporations and consumers. You can read the full article here, as it demonstrates the power that lies in our hands, hearts and keyboards.
Some mainstream food companies are carefully and quietly “calibrating their non-GMO strategies,” says NPR….. They’re hedging their bets: fighting state-by-state labeling initiatives, but quietly introducing their own GMO-free products in the meantime.
The Des Moines register editorial board statement issued on July 21st was transformational in its support of GMO labeling. The most powerful media entity in Iowa, a state dominated by GMO technology and agri-businesses such as DuPont, Pioneer and Monsanto, gave a message that was surprisingly clear: “Corporate America is fighting a losing battle over the GMO issue. Consumers wanted to know… Congress should set a nationwide standard of disclosure and then let the individual consumers decide whether the presence of GMOs in a product is something that concerns them.”
Turning west, Oregonians are leading the way in their concern over the effects of consuming GMOs and the environmental effects of super weeds and increased toxic herbicide use. Last May two counties in Oregon, Jackson and Josephine, passed ballot measures banning most GMO crops.
On July 2 the Oregon Right to Know coalition turned in over 156,000 signatures, nearly double the required number, to get the GMO food labeling initiative on the Oregon ballot this November. An Op-Ed in the Oregonian written by Martin Donohoe, MD, a Portland internist, and Ray Seidler, PhD, a retired senior scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency, makes no bones about how most folks feel. “The many Oregonians who care strongly about protecting our health and environment have a right to decide for themselves whether they want to buy foods in the supermarket that are associated with serious health and ecological harm.” Big food and biotechnology companies are likely to make large contributions to try to coerce voters to reject the measure, as they did last year in Washington State, where they spent $21 million, and in California in 2012, where they spent $46 million. Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon predicts the measure will pass despite the outside spending.
The food revolution has been with us for some time, and with organic still less than 5% of the food dollar, we have a long way to go to be free of the toxic paradigm that big agribusiness perpetuates. One step towards true change is to make the consequences of GMO food production more visible and to give consumers the opportunity to choose. All signs point to the power of the consumer gaining that basic right.
You say you want a revolution? Well, you know we all want to change the world. We all need a real solution and you know we do have a plan. The current news shows us why this revolution is imminent and may be coming to a ballot or legislator near you. Stay tuned and stay active.