You Don’t Matter—GOP House Votes for Monsanto’s Right to Deceive

DARK-ActToday, 275 members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of H.R. 1599, the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act. By voting for the DARK Act, these politicians (including  all of Nevada’s GOP Representatives—Amodei, Hardy and Heck) voted AGAINST truth and transparency, AGAINST science, AGAINST your right to know, and AGAINST the more than century-old right of states to legislate on matters relating to food safety and labeling. If this bill passes the Senate and is signed into law, it will nullify laws in states like Maine, Connecticut and Vermont where currently, GMO products are required to be labeled as such.

They voted against the 90-percent of Americans who are in favor of mandatory labeling of GMOs. They voted against the producers of non-GMO foods. The voted against States’ Rights.  They voted against you.

Whatever your views on GMOs, there is no Constitutional justification for the federal government to preempt state laws in this area. There certainly is no justification for Congress to preempt private sector efforts to meet consumer demands for non-GMO foods, while allowing those who support the use of GMOs to do so.

H.R. 1599 was sold to Congress via multi-million dollar public relations and lobbying campaigns built on lies and deception. Rumored to have been written by Monsanto themselves, the bill’s sole purpose is to support one industry—Monsanto’s poison-peddling industry—that was founded on lies and deception from the get-go. Monsanto—that same corporation who sold Agent Orange to our government as “safe” to use on our nation’s soldiers.

According to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mike Pompeo, the DARK Act gives consumers what they want: the means to know whether or not their food contains GMOs: “Consumers can choose to presume that all foods have GMO contents unless they are labeled or otherwise presented as non-GMO.  Meaning that it is knowable and it is known by the public which products have GMO and which don’t.”

Government regulation should NOT be an iffy, maybe they will, maybe the won’t kind of thing.  But, the DARK Act turns regulation upside down.  It would create a VOLUNTARY, government-run non-GMO certification program. Unless every producer of non-GMO products pays to have those products certified as non-GMO, consumers will still have no way of knowing which products contain GMOs, and which don’t. And why should the burden of labeling fall on the producers of non-GMO foods, when the risk factor is associated with those foods that do contain GMOs?

Did our Congress members vote against us because they were fooled by Monsanto’s slick, deceitful packaging of this so-called “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act”? Or did they simply vote with their wallets, stuffed full of biotech and junk food industry cash?

We don’t know. Given the Citizens United ruling, we’ll probably never know.  But we better know this: We can’t let this bill get through the U.S. Senate. We need to target Senator Heller and let him know this bill is unacceptable.

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Second Discovery of GMO Wheat Reveals ‘Failed Policy’ That Threatens Farmers

USDA says genetically engineered wheat discovered on Montana farm

by Andrea Germanos, CommonDreams staff writer

“Coexistence between genetically engineered and non-genetically engineered crops is a failed policy that fundamentally cannot work,” stated Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for Center for Food Safety. (Photo:  luke chan/flickr/cc)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday revealed that it was opening an investigation into the appearance of unapproved genetically engineered wheat in Montana.

It marks the second time the USDA is issuing notice of a discovery of rogue genetically engineered (or GMO) wheat. There is no commercially-approved GMO wheat.

According to a statement issued by the USDA, the discovery of the Roundup-resistant GMO wheat was made in July at Montana State University’s Southern Agricultural Research Center (SARC) in Huntley, Montana. That location was the site of Monsanto-led GMO wheat trials, approved by the USDA, from 2000 to 2003.

The agency stated that the GMO wheat found at the Montana site is different from the rogue GMO wheat spotted in 2013 on an 80-acre Oregon farm which was not the site of trial tests. That discovery sparked international backlash, with Japan and South Korea suspending some imports of U.S. wheat and the European Union calling for more testing of U.S. wheat. It also sparked a class action lawsuit by U.S. wheat farmers against Monsanto, charging that the GMO wheat finding caused them economic damage.

In the same announcement issued Friday, the USDA states that it is ending the investigation into the Oregon GMO wheat discovery, stating that it “appears to be an isolated incident,” and that the Oregon wheat is “significantly different” from the Montana wheat.

It states that there is no evidence that there is now GMO wheat in commerce and that it is unclear how the GMO wheat ended up on the Oregon farm.

Watchdog group Center for Food Safety, however, charges that the new discovery poses a threat to farmers and should be a call to stop open-air field trials.

“Once again, USDA and the biotech industry have put farmers and the food supply at risk,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for Center for Food Safety, said in a statement. “Coexistence between genetically engineered and non-genetically engineered crops is a failed policy that fundamentally cannot work. Genetic contamination is a serious threat to farmers across the country.”

“USDA cannot keep treating these as isolated incidents; contamination is the inevitable outcome of GMO crop technology,” he added. “USDA should, at a minimum, immediately place a moratorium on open-air field testing of genetically engineered crops.”


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Bayer-Syngenta-Monsanto pursue Tobacco-style Propaganda Blitz

As bee collapse threatens global food supply, report says chemical industry employing Big Tobacco-style PR blitz to deflect blame

— Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams staff writer

Worldwide bee deaths have now entered a crisis state threatening the global food supply and, according to a new report out Monday by Friends of the Earth, the human-made epidemic has been worsened by an industry-funded disinformation campaign.

(Image: Friends of the Earth)

The report,  Follow the Honey: 7 ways pesticide companies are spinning the bee crisis to protect profits (pdf), details how the leading pesticide corporations—Bayer, Syngenta, and Monsanto—are taking a page from the playbook of Big Tobacco companies to stall any potential legislation from protecting bee colonies.

According to report author and noted food industry critic Michele Simon, these corporations are engaging in a full-throttled public relations blitz, which includes funding industry-friendly research, targeting children, attacking regulators, blaming farmers and “pretending to care” by creating their own greenwashed “save the bees” campaigns.

These efforts are meant to distract policy makers and the general population from identifying the cause of bee decline, which—according to “a strong and growing body of evidence”—is linked to a widely-used class of neurotoxic pesticides called neonicotinoids, or neonics.

Following a 2013 review by the European Food Safety Authority, the European Commission implemented a continent-wide two-year suspension of the three most-used neonics— imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam.

U.S. efforts to enact similar legislation have floundered due to “sophisticated, multi-pronged public relation campaigns” by the leading chemical companies, intent on “manufactur[ing] doubt about their products’ contribution to the bee crisis,” the report charges.

Neonics are used on more than 140 crop seeds and virtually all corn and a large percentage of soy, wheat and canola seeds planted in the U.S. are pretreated with neonics. According to the report, the pesticide makers would have much to lose if neonics were universally banned. In 2009, the neonicotinoid global market was worth roughly $2.6 billion.

“Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto make billions from bee-killing pesticide products while masquerading as champions of bee health,” said Lisa Archer, food and technology program director at Friends of the Earth.  Asking if industry profits are “more important than our food supply,” Archer says that Congress must act now to ban these pesticides that threaten our food security.

“Bees are essential to one out of three bites of the food we eat, and two thirds of global food crops, from almonds to strawberries,” the report states. “While industry attempts at spin, distraction, and the manufacture of doubt may be effective political tools in the U.S. for causing delay and inaction, they will only cause more harm in the long run.”

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Current Status of the “Monsanto Rider”

A while ago, I wrote to Senator Reid regarding the “Monsanto Rider” that allows Monsanto’s genitically-engineered crops to stay in the ground while judicial review of their “de-regulated” status is underway.  Here’s my response from Senator Reid:

Dear Ms. Rock:

Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns about policies affecting genetically engineered crops during the appropriations process. I appreciate hearing from you regarding this important issue.

I took note of your concerns regarding Section 735 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013 (H.R. 933), better known as the “Monsanto rider.” This provision allows genetically engineered crops that have been de-regulated by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to stay in the ground, notwithstanding pending legal challenges. Specifically, the provision instructs the Secretary of Agriculture to grant a temporary permit for continued cultivation of crops or plants while a judicial review of their non-regulated status is underway. Since H.R. 933 simply extended prior provisions and spending levels, the Monsanto rider was unfortunately included in the funding resolution. This was signed into law on Tuesday, March 26, 2013, but it will expire on September 30th.

As you may know, the Senate is currently negotiating with the House of Representatives on a Continuing Resolution for appropriations to fund the federal government. However, you will be pleased to know that the Senate version of the Continuing Resolution explicitly prevents the extension of the so-called Monstano rider. As Congress continues work on legislation to provide funding for the 2014 Fiscal Year, I will be sure to keep your opposition to this provision in mind.

My best wishes to you.

Sincerely,

HARRY REID

United States Senator

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