The proposed legislation, which will need 60 votes to pass the Senate, would nullify Vermont's GMO labelling law and would bar any other state from enacting labelling requirements that differ from the federal standards
Senator Debbie Stabenow has given Monsanto everything it wanted in this proposed deal. Here is the bill: http://www.agriculture.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Mandatory%20Labeling%20Bill.pdf
1. Roberts, Stabenow reach deal on GMO labeling – AgriPulse
2. Breaking: Senate moves to preempt Vermont GMO labeling law – Organic Consumers Association
3. Breaking: Senate plans to kill GMO labeling for Monsanto – Food Democracy Now!
1. Roberts, Stabenow reach deal on GMO labeling
By Philip Brasher
AgriPulse, 23 June 2016
A landmark Senate agreement on national disclosure standards for genetically engineered foods would allow companies to disclose GMO ingredients through digital codes rather than on-package language or symbols.
The agreement, reached between Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, also would use a narrow definition of genetic engineering that would exempt the newest biotech methods such as gene editing from the national disclosure standards.
Both the definition and the option for digital codes rather than on-package labeling represent major victories for farm interests, biotech developers and food companies that have long resisted mandatory GMO labeling out of fear that it would stigmatize the technology.
The legislation, which will need 60 votes to pass the Senate, would nullify Vermont's first-in-the-nation GMO labeling law, which takes effect July 1 and would bar any other state from enacting labeling requirements that differ from the federal standards. A copy of the bill was obtained by Agri-Pulse.
Under the legislation, most food companies would have the option of disclosing GMO ingredients through either a digital, smartphone code, the industry's preference, or through an on-package symbol or language that the Agriculture Department would approve. The code would be accompanied by: “Scan here for more food information.”
Small companies would have the option of putting a phone number or website URL on labels instead of the digital code.
The Vermont law requires products with biotech ingredients to be labeled as produced or partially produced with genetic engineering. Such text would be optional under the Roberts-Stabenow deal.
The definition of genetic engineering, or “bioengineering,” would be restricted to traits developed through recombinant DNA techniques, which involve transferring a gene from one organism to another. Techniques such as RNA interference as well as gene editing would be exempt.
Roberts said the disclosure system would protect biotech products from being denigrated by opponents. “We saved agricultural biotechnology,” said Roberts.
Stabenow called the bill 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.
USDA issued a statement applauding the agreement. “It is our hope that their colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives recognize the difficulty of their work, and the importance of creating a path forward. The most impressive outcome of their agreement is that this measure encompasses over 24,000 more products than the Vermont law, which should assure people that this is measure can be transparent without sending the wrong message about the safety of their food options.”
The agreement is the result of months of on-and-off negotiations that followed the failure of a committee-passed bill to pass the Senate in March when a motion to advance the measure failed, 48-49, far short of the 60-vote majority needed.
The big question now, besides whether there will be enough Democratic support for the agreement, is when the Senate and House will act on it. The Senate is unlikely to vote on the legislation until next month because the Senate is tied up with pending appropriations bills, aides said. Both chambers are out of session after the middle of July for the national party conventions and the annual August recess.
The House, which is on break until July 5, must approve the legislation since it differs dramatically from bill that chamber passed last July.
Other key aspects of the agreement:
-The standards would become mandatory after USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service finalizes a rule laying out the disclosure requirements, including the optional on-package text and symbol. AMS would have two years to write the rule.
-USDA would be required survey the availability of scanning devices and the internet and provide additional disclosure options if officials determine that shoppers “would not have sufficient access to the bioengineering disclosure through electronic or digital” methods.
-Food manufacturers defined as “very small” would be exempt from the disclosure requirement entirely. AMS would define the thresholds for small and very small businesses. The Food and Drug Administration sets those thresholds at $10 million and $1 million for nutrition labeling. Restaurants also would be exempt.
-Meat and dairy products wouldn't be considered GMOs just because the animals were fed GMO feed, and products such as soup where meat is the lead ingredient also would be exempt even if there is a minor biotech ingredient such as high fructose corn syrup. Animals such as salmon that are genetically engineered would fall under the disclosure requirements.
-USDA would have no authority to require recalls of products that don't comply with the labeling requirements, and there would be no federal penalties for violations. States, however, could impose fines for violations of the standards under state consumer protection rules.
The bill also includes a provision sought by organic industry that could help broaden support for the legislation: Products that are certified organic by USDA could be labeled as non-GMO.
The Organic Trade Association applauded the bill, saying it “would for the first time require mandatory GMO labeling nationwide."
"This legislation includes provisions that are excellent for organic farmers and food makers - and for the millions of consumers who choose organic every day - because they recognize, unequivocally, that USDA Certified Organic products qualify for non-GMO claims in the market place," OTA said.
The relatively tight definition of “bioengineering” that is in the labeling bill would not affect other federal regulations for biotechnology.
The House voted 275-150 last July to approve its Safe and Affordable Food Labeling Act (HR 1599), which, in addition to preempting state biotech labeling requirements, would set up a process for labeling foods as non-GMO, a provision left out of the Senate agreement. Some 45 Democrats voted for the bill, while 12 Republicans opposed it.
The Senate agreement also omits a provision of the House bill that would require FDA to define the use of the word “natural” on food labels but leave it to the agency whether to allow genetically engineered ingredients.
Stabenow was long the key to the deal because of the 60-vote requirement for moving legislation in the Senate. She has long supported preempting state labeling laws but she insisted that there be some kind of mandatory disclosure requirement. Roberts' negotiating leverage was limited because of the looming Vermont law and the decision by major food companies to begin complying with it. In the end, however, he cut a deal that largely met their priorities.
To read the bill click here.
2. Breaking: Senate moves to preempt Vermont GMO labeling law
Organic Consumers Association, 23 June 2016
Today, our “leaders” in the U.S. Senate proudly announced that they’ve “reached a deal” on a federal GMO labeling bill. No matter how they spin it—and they will spin it—this “compromise” is nothing more than a handout to Monsanto, an industry-brokered deal intended to legally sanction the right of corporations to deceive you, the consumer.
Today, the U.S. Senate unveiled a bill that, if passed, will overturn Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling law, and replace it with an anti-consumer bill that allows food corporations to hide GMOs behind QR barcodes and toll-free phone numbers—and gives them another two years before they even have to pretend they are labeling.
What does this news mean for Vermont’s mandatory labeling law? Vermont's law will still take effect on July 1, because Congress has run out of time to get the bill passed by both the House and Senate, and plop it down on President Obama’s desk.
But once Congress returns after the July 4 recess, you can bet your life that Monsanto’s minions in Congress will make it their highest priority to seal the deal on an industry-friendly, anti-consumer, anti-states' rights federal law that will overturn Vermont's law and leave U.S. consumers in the dark.
With your help, we will once again throw ourselves into the battle to save Vermont’s law. To demand the right to truth and transparency in labeling. To remind our members of Congress that they were elected to serve us, not their corporate masters.
We will work to keep the Senate from getting the 60 votes it needs to pass the bill. We will recruit pro-labeling Senators to filibuster, if we have to. We will take our—your—fight to the oval office, and if necessary, we will launch a massive boycott of any food product that isn't labeled organic, grass-fed or non-GMO.
Last week we kicked off our summer online fundraising campaign.
Now, more than ever, we need your help to raise $200,000 by midnight June 30. Thank you for bringing us this far--let's fight to the end.
Donate to the Organic Consumers Association (tax-deductible, helps support our work on behalf of organic standards, fair trade and public education) [via the links on this page:
Donate to the Organic Consumers Fund (non-tax-deductible, but necessary for our GMO labeling legislative efforts) [via the links on this page:
3. Breaking: Senate plans to kill GMO labeling for Monsanto
Food Democracy Now!, 23 June 2016
Breaking: Senate has just announced it will kill Vermont's GMO labeling bill! The Monsanto Bargain is a Major SELL OUT of the GMO labeling movement and once again protects Monsanto's and Big Food's toxic profits! …
This just in, Politico and Agri-Pulse are now reporting that after months of behind closed doors negotiations, Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) have finally reached a compromise deal on GMO labeling that will rob Americans of their basic right to have genetically engineered foods labeled in the United States. Even worse, it preempts Vermont's first-in-the-nation GMO labeling bill and makes sure Americans will never have real or meaningful GMO labeling.
This is an outrage!
Once again, America’s elected officials have chosen the toxic profits of corporations like Monsanto over the basic rights of the American public.
We need your help right now to tell Monsanto and the U.S. Senate that the movement for GMO labeling and halt Monsanto’s corruption of our food supply will not be stopped. This fight is far from over and Monsanto knows it!
Please, Claire – help us end Monsanto's corruption of our democracy in 2016 and don't miss this chance to have your gift DOUBLED 2 to 1 by pitching in whatever you can.
Double your impact today! Will you chip in $1 or more to keep up the fight against Monsanto and make sure we can win the battle for GMO labeling once and for all? Every bit count!
We need your support today, so we can keep telling the truth and stop Monsanto's corruption of our democracy and our food supply! Every voice counts!
The full written details have not yet been released, but Food Democracy Now! has heard from sources close to the negotiations that this corrupt bargain will allow Big Food companies to use 3 separate labeling standards – which includes QR codes, but would not require mandatory, on-package labeling that simply says “produced with genetic engineering”, as you, the American People, have demanded.
Additionally, according to Agri-Pulse, the Stabenow / Roberts - Monsanto Compromise would:
1. Preempt Vermont's first-in-the-nation GMO labeling law, if this compromise actually passes.
2. Redefine genetic engineering as “bioengineering” and would be restricted to traits developed through recombinant DNA techniques, which involve transferring a gene from one organism to another, therefore....
3. Techniques such as RNA interferenceas well as gene editing would be exempt.
Once again, this means that everything that Monsanto and the GMA asked for, they got served on a silver platter from our corrupt Senators!
The real question is: Where and when does this end?
How long will ruthless and corrupt multinational corporations like Monsanto be allowed to work backroom deals that short-circuit our democracy in an effort to allow them to continue to spray toxic chemicals on our food and poison our environment?W
When does the sickening corruption of our political process here in America end?
With your help, it ends today!
After more than 5 years of working day and night to win mandatory labeling of GMO foods – 80% of which have been genetically engineered to survive being sprayed with the toxic chemical Roundup – which last year the World Health Organization linked to cancer, our elected officials still feel compelled to put Monsanto’s toxic profits over the health and well-being of our children.
The fact is, we’re winning and Monsanto knows it.
We will not be stopped. We must continue our momentum. We have Monsanto and the junk food companies on the run and they’re not only getting nervous, they’re also losing hundreds of millions of dollars every year.
Help us end Monsanto’s corruption of our democracy in Washington - your support of Food Democracy Now! is needed today, chip in now to help stop Monsanto for good!
Double your Impact: Make your tax-deductible donation to Food Democracy Now! before the 2 to 1 fundraising deadline! Every dollar counts!
Remember, democracy is like a muscle, either you use it or you lose it! Together we're unstoppable!
Thanks for participating in food democracy,
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! team
1. “Roberts, Stabenow reach deal on GMO labeling”, Agri-Pulse, June 22, 2016