On May 8, 2014, the state of Vermont passed a law that all food labels must show if theproduct has genetically engineered components beginning in July 1, 2016. A lawsuit was filed in the federal district court of Vermont by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) to try to get the GMO food labeling law struck down. The court ruled on April 27, 2015 that states have the right to require GMO food labeling where there are no federal regulations on the issue. The consequences of the Vermont law will require about 45,000 food products to print their GMO content status or be reformulated to exclude GMO content. The GMA is now appealing the Vermont law to the federal circuit court. This issue may go to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), but the current vacancy in SCOTUS may cause delays in filing for a ruling.
On Feb. 21, 2016, Joseph Mercola, MD published “The Battle for GMO Transparency – Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going.” Dr. Mercola conducted an interview with Ronnie Cummings, president of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to discuss the history and current status of genetically engineered (GE) foods. The first GE foods entered the market on Feb. 4, 1994 when Monsanto was allowed to market bovine growth hormone (BGH) into the cattle industry. Monsanto introduced Roundup in 1974 as a broad spectrum herbicide. It was first used on cotton. Since cottonseed oils are used for many snack foods, the first foods to contain a GE ingredient were in the mid-1970s, not 1994.
Glyphosate is widely used on cotton, soy, corn, and rapeseed (canola). Atrazine is used on corn. The top 10 GE products as of 2013 were, in descending order: corn, soy, canola oil, cottonseed oil, milk (BGH), beet sugar, aspartame (GE bacteria used as Equal sweetener), zucchini, yellow squash, and Hawaiian papaya. Major grocery chains and food manufacturers are now focused upon meeting consumer demand for non-GMO foods by promoting organic foods. The chains increasing shelf space for organic foods include Kroger’s, Safeway, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and regional suppliers. While congressional representatives are listening to the wishes of the GMA and food PAC lobbyists, retail food suppliers are listening to their customers.
The USDA has formally defined the requirements for labeling a food organic. Organic foods prohibit the use of GE foods, pesticides, herbicides, artificial fertilizers in producing the final products. The first installments of a multi-part course called Organic 101 were released in 2012. There are at least 18 different parts to this course. No index for all of the contents for Organic 101 was detected.
There is a formal definition of what the USDA organic label means.
Organic certification requires that farmers and handlers document their processes and get inspected every year. Organic on-site inspections account for every component of the operation, including, but not limited to, seed sources, soil conditions, crop health, weed and pest management, water systems, inputs, contamination and commingling risks and prevention, and record-keeping. Tracing organic products from start to finish is part of the USDA organic promise.
There is a basic definition of substances allowed in organic farming. There are some exceptions to this list, which is controlled by a combination of government, consumer and producer members. Organic standards are designed to allow natural substances in organic farming while prohibiting synthetic substances. The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances—a component of the organic standards—lists the exceptions to this basic rule.
The basic rule for organic agriculture is to allow natural substances and prohibit synthetic. For livestock like these healthy cows, however, vaccines play an important part in animal health—especially since antibiotic therapy is prohibited.
Because 90% of consumers surveyed favor labeling GMO foods, the federal law to prohibit states from establishing food labeling that was passed in the House of Representatives on July 23, 2015 has not been acted upon in the Senate. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) labeled it the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CN) have labeled the bill the Denying Americans the Right to Know (DARK) act. Pompeo’s bill would have prevented the USDA from establishing a standard for requirements to label a product non-GMO. Since the Senate didn’t act on the bill, the USDA has proceeded to preempt the bill and has issued the requirements for non-GMO labeling. This is good.
It is recommended that you send an e-mail or call your senators and representative to express your desire to know what you are eating and drinking. There is a link to every Senate and House of Representatives member using a map and a point-and-click approach to find your members of Congress. Write, e-mail or call your senators and representative to tell them you want all foods to be labeled with regard to GMO content, country of origin, country of processing if different from country of origin, and labeled organic or non-GMO if it meets USDA standards.
It is your right to know what you are consuming, but if you remain silent Congress will only hear the lobbyists from the food manufacturing associations, agricultural chemical manufacturers, and political action committees. It’s your life. Take charge.