An overwhelming majority of Americans say they want mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients. In a report published by the Mellman Group in November last year, 89% of the 800 peopled surveyed favored mandatory labels on “foods which have been genetically engineered or containing genetically engineered ingredients.”
Various surveys dating back to 2008 received a similar response: Around 90% or more people said genetically modified (GM) food should be labeled. This isn’t particularly surprising, whether or not people agree with GM foods, most people feel they have a right to be informed about what they’re putting in their bodies. At the heart of it, GM labeling is about giving people a choice.
On July 6, the Stabenow-Roberts GMO labeling bill was passed in the Senate, but it’s not good news for those who want clear, compulsory GM labeling laws. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, wrote in a statement:
[T]he advocacy groups that have fought so long and hard for clear GMO labeling aren’t cheering: They know the bill is a gift to the agribusiness and biotech industries—not a compromise. That’s why consumer advocates have dubbed the bill the Denying Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act.
Hauter cites several problems with the bill, including the fact that manufacturers can use “QR codes” and “call for more information,” which isn’t exactly clear labeling. Further to this, the bill’s definition of “genetic engineering” may leave out many foods that should be labeled. The bill also fails to include provisions to penalize violators, which Hauter argues essentially means the requirements are voluntary.
On their website, March Against Monsanto has provided a list of senators who voted “yes” on the Stabenow-Roberts bill and includes how much they were paid by Monsanto for their affirmative vote. The final tally for the amount Monsanto shelled out is a whopping $58 million. The March Against Monsanto article also includes those senators who voted “nay” and a group of senators has spoken out about the inadequacy of the bill.
When it comes to lobbying against GM labeling, big food and biotech companies appear to have limitless funds. In 2015, it’s estimated that $101 million was spent in an effort to avert mandatory labeling laws.
March Against Monsanto is urging people to call their senators now to protest the Stabenow-Roberts bill. They have provided a list of contact numbers on their site. If you are among the 90% of Americans who want clear, concise GM labeling, perhaps it’s time to pick up the phone.
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