Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Monsanto Democrats Attempt to Kill Vermont's GMO Labeling Law


Al Franken, a reliable Monsanto Senator (source)

by Gaius Publius

Let's look at this story from a couple of angles. First, here's what happened recently in Vermont, as told by Thom Hartmann (my emphasis everywhere):
On July 1, Vermont implemented a law requiring disclosure labels on all food products that contain genetically engineered ingredients, also known as genetically modified organisms or GMOs.

Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch, hailed the law as “the first law enacted in the US that would provide clear labels identifying food made with genetically engineered ingredients. Indeed, stores across the country are already stocking food with clear on-package labels thanks to the Vermont law, because it’s much easier for a company to provide GMO labels on all of the products in its supply chain than just the ones going to one state.”

What that means is that the Vermont labeling law is changing the landscape of our grocery stores, and making it easier than ever to know which products contain GMOs.
The "first law enacted in the United States that would provide clear labels" identifying food with GMO ingredients. And as noted by Ms. Hauter of Food and Water Watch, once one state mandates this labeling, these labels will be de facto practice in all states, since "it’s much easier for a company to provide GMO labels on all of the products in its supply chain than just the ones going to one state."

That tells you what the stakes are — a de facto national GMO labeling law instigated by Vermont. Now the response.

Your Monsanto Senators at Work

Hartmann again:
And less than a week later after that law went into effect, it is under attack. Monsanto and its bought-and-paid-for toadies in Congress are pushing legislation to override Vermont’s law. Democrats who oppose this effort call the Stabenow/Roberts legislation the “Deny Americans the Right to Know” Act, or DARK Act.

This isn’t the first time that a DARK Act has been brought forward in the Senate, and one version of the bill was already shot down earlier this year. The most recent version of the bill was brought forward by Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, both recipients of substantial contributions from Big Agriculture.
How much money?
Stabenow has received more than $600,000 in campaign contributions since 2011 from the Crop Production and Basic Processing Industry, and Pat Roberts has received more than $600,000 from the Agricultural Services and Products industry.
Doesn't sound like much, does it? Especially compared to Monsanto's annual revenue of $15 billion. If I were Stabenow's agent, I'd get her ten times as much. Some folks, I guess, just don't know their worth to those they serve.

George Orwell Explains the Anti-GMO Labeling Law

Here's Senator Stabenow on what her anti-GMO labeling law would do (quoted here):
“This bipartisan bill is a win for consumers and families. For the first time ever, consumers will have a national, mandatory label for food products that contain genetically modified ingredients. This proposal is also a win for our nation’s farmers and food producers.”
The anti-labeling law is offers consumers a "national, mandatory label" that looks like this:

Clear as a bell, right? Not only that, but the bill contains restrictions in its definitions and applications:
The 14-page bill – which uses a narrow definition of genetic engineering (traits developed through recombinant DNA techniques, which involve transferring a gene from one organism to another) that would exempt new techniques such as gene editing from labeling – would come into force two years after it is enacted.

Like many state-led bills, the Roberts/Stabenow bill would not require labeling on milk or meat from animals fed GM feed, or food sold in [a] restaurant “or similar retail food establishment.”

It does not make any reference to ‘natural’ claims, meanwhile, which have been a feature of many state-driven GMO labeling bills, including Act 120 in Vermont. ...

One fact immediately picked up by Dr. William Hallman, Chair of the Department of Human Ecology at Rutgers University, is that - as written - the definition of 'bioengineered' could potentially exclude scores of products containing heavily refined ingredients derived from GM crops, as it states (p1) that food qualifying for labeling "contains genetic material."

He added: "According to the definition, the food must contain genetic material i.e. DNA. This requirement would presumably exclude ingredients made from genetically modified crops that are then refined to remove DNA. This would include commonly used ingredients such as refined sugar from GM sugar beets, corn syrup from GM corn, and oil from GM canola."
In other words, this anti-labeling labeling law is designed to be toothless and offered as a "bipartisan compromise" by lead Democratic sponsor Debbie Stabenow.

Do You Know Who Your Monsanto Senators Are? They're Also Your "Progressive" Senators.

Which brings me to the point of this piece. You can't defeat Monsanto and the rest of the corporate food industry, with its insistence on basing all food possible on poison such as "modified food starch," a product that fattens its consumers slowly while it fattens the wallets of its producers much more quickly — you can't defeat Monsanto if you don't know who's propping them up.

The list of Your Monsanto Senators includes these "liberals" and "progressives":

    Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) — 202-224-5653
    Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) — 202-224-3841
    Al Franken (D-MN) — 202-224-5641
    Tim Kaine (D-VA) — 202-224-4024
    Amy Klobushar (D-MN) — 202-224-3244
    Jean Shaheen (D-NH) — 202-224-2841
    Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) — 202-224-4822


    Sherrod Brown (D-OH) — 202-224-2315

who declined to vote No by declining to vote (but see below). 

These senators were part of the Yes vote on cloture for the bill. Cloture, the motion to close debate, passed 65-32. Since cloture required 60 votes, six No votes from the list above would have killed the bill in the Senate.

Remember these names when you assemble up your "progressive heroes" list. They should not be on it.

They're on another list, though. The Christmas list at Monsanto. Doesn't help us much when we're fattening up on GMO modified corn starch at the McDonalds and Burger King trough, but it does provide the money that keeps them in power. So I guess there's that.

They've Done This Before, Your Monsanto Senators

This isn't the first time Your Monsanto Senators have killed GMO labeling from their high seats in the Senate. There was another instance in 2012. This Senate amendment attempted to "permit States to require that any food, beverage, or other edible product offered for sale have a label on indicating that the food, beverage, or other edible product contains a genetically engineered ingredient (my emphasis)." In other words, it wouldn't have mandated GMO labeling; it would allow states to do as they choose with respect to GMO labeling.

The amendment failed 26-73. Among the No (pro-Monsanto) votes were these "progressive" senators:

    Al Franken (D-MN) — 202-224-5641
    Sherrod Brown (D-OH) — 202-224-2315
    Amy Klobushar (D-MN) — 202-224-3244
    Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) — 202-224-4822
    Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) — 202-224-4451
    Dick Durbin (D-IL) — 202-224-2152
    Tom Harkin (D-IA) — retired

Their No wasn't even needed, given the margin, so I guess their Yes was a proof of loyalty.

Do you feel like telling these senators what you think of their love of Monsanto, ahead of the "unity festival" at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia? The DC office phone numbers are above.


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At 10:50 AM, Blogger MikeAdamson said...

I'm not opposed to the labels but I am struck by the fact that the scientific community seems to believe that GMO is ok. I'm a little confused when scientific consensus re global warming should be followed but the same is not true for GMO. Any thoughts on why?

At 4:07 PM, Blogger Christy Anderson said...

altering the genes of a plant haven't been proven to be hazardous to a person, however glyphosate, the pesticide/weedkiller that is sprayed on the altered plant is whats making everybody sick and was recently labeled as a probable carcinogen to humans by the WHO and umpteen scientists who did many years of study and analysis...so if you wanna play russian roulette with your food...keeep eating gmos

At 5:02 AM, Blogger J Palmer said...

If GMO is harmless why not label it?

At 9:38 AM, Blogger Mary Douglas said...

Dick Durbin didn't retire! He ran and won in 2014... so that means he's there for another 4 years.

At 11:11 AM, Blogger Gaius Publius said...

Thanks, Mary Douglas. Fixed.


At 6:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good piece and good comments.

How many such singleton type examples of the corruption of the entire D party will it take for lefty voters to get it?

Al Franken has been a terrible disappointment. But he's also a case study in how the established power mechanism corrupts even if someone with good intentions makes it in.

Patty Murray is probably the best example of how someone with generally good intentions/principles can become TOTALLY corrupted and a $hill for the money.

Durbin is a fizzy douche and has been for decades.

GMOs should be labeled. They should also be studied for their effects on people AND THE ENVIRONMENT. Bees, for example, are being killed en masse and nobody seems sure why. Could it be something about the nectars or pollens of these GMO plants?


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