The Senate Won’t Block GMO Labeling? Just Sneak It In On a Spending Bill Instead
When H.R. 1599 (referred to by labeling proponents as The DARK act – Denying Americans the Right to Know) passed last July, it was up to the Senate to decide what would happen next. Pro-labeling advocates were pleased when the bill died in the Senate last September, but anti-GMO labeling interests then began pushing for the inclusion of a rider to the recent omnibus spending bill. The rider would have nullified state laws requiring labeling (currently Vermont, Connecticut and Maine have passed GMO labeling laws) and even forbidden federal agencies from mandating labeling. Numerous senators vocally opposed the inclusion of the preemption rider, successfully keeping it out of the bill.
Colin O’Neil, of the Environmental Working Group, applauded the controversial rider’s removal —
“An end-of-the-year, must-pass spending bill is the wrong vehicle to address an issue as important as our right to know what’s in our food and how it’s grown.”
Or as one might put it more bluntly, enough with the deceptive political shenanigans already. Trying to sneak this kind of rider in, after hours and hours of Senate and House of Representatives hearings on an important issue, is deplorable, and only increases people’s distrust of how things are currently done in Washington.
Beyond the shenanigans, much still needs to be decided. The fact that Vermont, Connecticut and Maine have survived legal challenges by the food industry is encouraging to pro-labeling advocates, but of course the big question remains – if every state passes GMO labeling laws, are we setting ourselves up for a mess of patchwork regulations, which will differ state to state?
The Grocery Manufacturers Association of course had something to say about this as well, as Pamela G. Bailey (President/CEO) issued a statement, saying in part —
“It is unfortunate that Congress has failed to take action this year to stop a patchwork of costly and misleading state labeling mandates, an issue of tremendous importance to consumers, farmers, food and beverage companies. In January, food manufacturers will face exponentially increasing costs totaling hundreds of millions of dollars to comply with Vermont’s GMO labeling mandate.”
Hundreds of millions dollars? Hmmm… this happened in mid-December, before major player Campbell’s Soup stepped up to label voluntarily. I wonder if that caused Pamela to revise her financial totals downward a bit? More on that in a future post…
And speaking of future posts, one part of this omnibus spending bill forces the FDA to label the recently approved GE salmon. More on that in tomorrow’s follow-up…
To learn more about the omnibus spending bill, visit:
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