The GMO labeling battles are heating up again in Washington, DC – and this may be the last chance to get a national standard put in place.
As you may remember, Vermont passed legislation requiring a mandatory GMO label that will go into effect on July 1, 2016. The problem is, the bill is horribly confusing and inconsistent regarding which foods have to be labeled and which don’t. As these types of laws proliferate across the country, it creates an expensive patchwork of confusing and contradictory labeling laws. Ultimately, that raises the price of food and just makes things even more confusing for consumers.
But late last week, Senator Pat Roberts, the Committee Chairman for the Senate Agriculture Committee, released a draft bill aimed at pre-empting the Vermont law. It would be a companion bill to the House legislation that was passed last year, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. You can read the proposed legislation here.
The most important thing that supporters of modern agriculture can do now is contact their Senators on the Agriculture Committee and encourage them to pass this legislation out of committee and to the Senate for a full vote. This is going to be a tough fight, but we need all hands on deck.
Don’t think it matters? Senator Debbie Stabenow, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Agricultural Committee, was recently in favor of a federal law. That is, until she was bombarded with anti-GMO pressure. Now, at best, she’s hesitant to support anything that would anger the anti-GMO activists. She was swayed by this exact same pressure and we need to have our voices in the mix.
Let that be a lesson to anyone that thinks social media campaigns don’t matter.
So, what can you do to help? Let’s make it easy!!
Below I’ve provided links to the Facebook pages to the most important Senators to contact directly. I suggest writing on their Facebook walls a comment that includes the following: 1. Who you are (ie. your connection to agriculture, why you care about this issue); 2. A comment about the importance of GMOs for modern agriculture and the scientific consensus that they’re safe; 3. A comment about labeling being an attack on the technology, bad for consumers, or the current state labeling laws being unworkable, confusing, and costly; and 4. Ask the Senator to support a federal labeling law that will pre-empt state-by-state laws, including Senator Roberts’ proposal.
Something like this:
Senator Stabenow – I’m a farmer’s daughter and I’m proud that my parents and brothers grow GMO corn and soybeans on our family farm. I’m writing you because I know that biotechnology is important for our farm and for feeding a growing population. I also know that scientific consensus has shown that genetically modified crops are just as safe as their non-GMO counterparts. Unfortunately, the state-by-state patchwork of GMO labeling that is being put in place is confusing, misleading, and unhelpful for consumers. It will also raise the price of food unnecessarily, which will hurt those struggling to put food on the table for absolutely no reason. I want to encourage you to work with Senator Roberts in finding a federal solution to this problem that will create a uniform, common sense labeling standard.
Of course, I encourage you to personalize your letter so they don’t all look the same. Make it as long or short as you want. Be sure to personalize it!
Here’s how to contact the Senators on Facebook (feel to message them or comment on the last post if they don’t let you post directly on their wall):
Senator Debbie Stabenow: https://www.facebook.com/stabenow
Senator Amy Klobuchar: https://www.facebook.com/amyklobuchar
Senator Heidi Heitkamp: https://www.facebook.com/SenatorHeidiHeitkamp
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: https://www.facebook.com/KirstenGillibrand
Right now is a make or break moment – we all need to be part of Team Ag.