The Legislative Battlefield

August 7, 2012
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congressSome quick updates on hot-button issues in Congress and in state legislatures. (Please send a thank-you to some stalwart US senators!)

Those Pro-GMO Riders

Last week we told you about some sneaky GMO amendments—two riders attached to the Farm Bill, and one attached to the Agriculture Appropriations Bill.

The House was scheduled to consider a Continuing Resolution on the current Farm Bill last Tuesday evening in an attempt to trigger a conference committee, which would have allowed the biotech industry to sneak in their riders unnoticed. Your messages poured in protesting this illegitimate procedural move, and at the last minute the House leadership decided to pull the CR from the floor agenda because there weren’t enough votes to pass it. Instead the House approved some drought relief legislation which addresses one element of the 2008 Farm Bill. Congress will have to address the Farm Bill when everyone returns from August recess, before the current legislation expires end of September.

On the Ag Appropriations Bill, the situation remains unchanged. The bill has not yet been considered on the House floor, so it will most likely be considered when they return form August recess. They will likely drop it into an omnibus spending bill— and if they do, we will keep a close eye on whether the GMO riders are included or not.

Label the GMOs?

Senators Bernie Sanders and Barbara Boxer offered a GMO labeling amendment to the Farm Bill. This amendment would have reinforced states’ existing authority to require labeling of genetically engineered foods. It also required FDA and USDA to compile a report to Congress detailing the percentage of food and beverages sold in the United States that contain GE ingredients. Unfortunately, the amendment failed, 26 to 73. Action Alert! If you are a resident of any of these states, please write to the 26 senators who supported the amendment, and thank them!

Senators who supported the amendment:

Akaka (D-HI)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Boxer (D-CA)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kerry (D-MA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Manchin (D-WV)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murray (D-WA)
Reed (D-RI)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-NM)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)

Increasingly, states are taking action on GE labeling in the face of federal government inaction. Bills are still pending in Missouri, Hawaii, New Jersey, and of course California.

In Vermont, the “VT Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act” was gaining steam, both in the legislature and with the public, when Monsanto threatened to sue the state of Vermont if its legislature passed the bill. So the bill languished in committee until May, when the legislature adjourned for the year.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski tried to create more hurdles to slow the approval of GE salmon. She offered an amendment that would have required a comprehensive analysis of the environmental and economic impacts of genetically engineered fish by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). However, that would have meant that NOAA would have to apply their own standards and environmental assessments for federal fisheries (such as analyzing the potential impact of the GE salmon escaping), which is beyond the scope of what FDA usually does, and the Senate voted against the amendment

Other Farm Bill Amendments

Finally, an update on two amendments we told you about this past June.

Sen. Leahy’s amendment to the Farm Bill would have increased jail terms to ten years for supplement manufacturers who “adulterate” or “misbrand” their product (which includes not following the FDA-determined NDI procedure, which we have argued is profoundly flawed and burdensome). Happily, Leahy’s amendment will not be part of the Farm Bill amendment package, though it is important we stay vigilant on the issue, since he has offered the same legislation in various forms previously (the exact same language is found in Sen. Leahy’s bill S.216, which is currently languishing in committee in the House).

Unfortunately, the same fate struck Sen. Paul’s raw milk amendment. Paul’s language would have allowed for the sale and interstate transportation of raw milk, but the amendment will not be included in the amendment package when it comes up for its vote.


11 Responses to “The Legislative Battlefield”

  1. Karen McBride says:

    Thank you for keeping us well informed.

       1 likes

  2. Barbara Montgomery says:

    THANKS

       1 likes

  3. T.A.Sterling says:

    I grew up on raw milk..Im almost 70 with no problems and not taking any type of meds ONLY supplements.I think the reason for pasturing milk is so big brother can control it.A friend of mine had a dairy farm for years but had to get out because of all the worthless regulations..

       0 likes

  4. Robaire M. Viloria says:

    Aloha! I’m hoping you keep a record of the Reps. that voted on these anti consumer bills so that we all can vote against them when they try to run for another office.

       0 likes

  5. VICKI KNAPP says:

    All GMO food should be labeled as such and all food containing GMO foods ahould be labeled as containing GMO foods along with which specific food ingredients are GMO.

       0 likes

  6. 2¢ worth says:

    Unfortunately, no one in my State (Utah) supported this bill. (more interest rhetoric). I will keep them in mind though and tell my friends in Co., Wa., and Ca. to write them.. Thanks for the listing.

       0 likes

  7. Dear ANH,
    It is unlikely that genetically modified food has any adverse affects on health, in and of itself. However the poisons that are use in conjunction with such foods certainly do. So maybe it would be more productive to insist that food that has been poisoned be labeled. Even better would be to prohibit such poisons in food. No one will be bothering to buy genetically modified seeds if they can not put roundup on the crops anyway. And of course one of the poisons that should not be put into food is fluoride (see http://charles_w.tripod.com/fluoride.html ).
    Sincerely, Charles Weber

       0 likes

  8. georgia carman says:

    I am not sure the general public understands what the ramifications are for GMO, and adulterated or mislabeled food or drink products are; and they do not understand the future ramifications of allowing
    these products to remain as they are; and they likely do not know that we, citizens of this country do have some say in what we are given to eat and drink, and obviously, in reality, “we” do not have a choice about what it put into our feed animals and plants and products, unless there is adequate legislation and policing of these practices. It is like the checks and balances in our government, which were supposed to work for the good of the people; it doesn’t, any more. Not everyone can read and hear and understand what this means to Americans, and others all over the world. Can’t someone in government, like the largest per cent of them, and our president get with it, and get honest? I am not sure of all the injustices done without our knowledge; I know most of our governmental agencies ARE involved in these decisions at some point.

       0 likes

  9. Erv Amdahl says:

    Anyone with any common sense knows that when someone tries to sneak riders into a bill that they can’t be good for the public. If this was really to benefit the country or the world, it would be done out in the open where everyone knew what’s going on so let’s pull these from the farm bill and pass legislation allowing labeling of GMO foods or products in the food, seeds or whatever.
    At least we have a choice whether we want to purchase these products or not. Whatever happened to truth in advertising, when ingredienst are hidden or given a fancy name to mis-direct the buyer is not truth in advertising in my bood or in a majority of americans fooks.

       0 likes

  10. robert seaton says:

    ” ETERNAL VIGILANCE is the price of liberty.” More so now than EVER. Remember the word ETERNAL.

       0 likes

  11. Buck Crosby says:

    Leahy has NEVER accomplished anything usefull or beneficial to the his constituents or any other American citizens the ENTIRE time he has been in office , I fail to see how these misfit losers keep getting elected and re-elected .

       0 likes

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