With millions of people waking up to the reality of GMOs and feeling like their trust has been violated, the Monsanto Company is now finding it harder than any time in recent memory to do business.
Its share price has dropped 25 percent since this spring, it recently failed on a bid to acquire Swiss chemical giant Syngenta (to avoid paying U.S. taxes), and it also just laid off 2,600 workers.
With the scrutiny at an all-time high, Monsanto is being forced to rely on secrecy more than ever before — hence their recent push for a secret trade deal with Europe as well as HR1599, a controversial bill that would actually ban mandatory GMO labeling at the state level.
The GMO labeling ban bill is actually being dubbed the DARK Act (Deny Americans the Right to Know; learn more here), and it passed the House despite widespread opposition in the form of calls and emails. But there’s at least one problem withHR1599 that many people don’t realize — the bill holds no regard for states’ constitutional rights, according to a coalition of lawmakers that recently penned a letter to Congress in hopes of saving GMO labeling.
Anti-GMO Labeling HR1599 Bill Tramples Constitutional Rights
According to this press release published by the Organic Consumers Association, a bipartisan group of 95 state lawmakers representing 21 states have signed a joint letter asking Congress to oppose HR1599 or any other federal law that would preempt states’ constitutional rights to enact GMO labeling laws. The bill was introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas, whose top campaign contributor this year was the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the trade group of which Monsanto is a member that has donated several millions to stop GMO labeling laws across the country.
As lead author Michelle Dunphy (of Old Town, Maine) wrote:
“H.R. 1599 is being deceptively sold to Congress on the mistruth that it will address consumers’ concerns by establishing a uniform federal standard for GMO labeling.
“In fact, H.R. 1599 would preempt state and federal mandatory labeling laws and instead establish a voluntary, government-run program for labeling non-GMO foods. States have historically held the right to pass food safety and food labeling laws, and Congress should not undermine that right just to protect the Biotech industry.”
In the letter, the reps reject claims of the bill’s supporters that GMO labeling laws would create a “messy patchwork” of laws.
“H.R. 1599 is nothing more than an attempt to legally sanction the right of corporations to withhold factual information from consumers,” said Sen. Robert L. Hedlund, a Massachusetts Congressman. “If Congress concedes to industry on this state right, what’s to prevent other industries from asking Congress to strip states of other long-held rights? It’s a slippery slope.”
New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. also added his two cents on mandatory GMO labeling.
“I signed on to Rep. Michelle Dunphy’s letter because I strongly believe that consumers have the right to know whether the foods they purchase have been produced with genetic engineering so they can make informed purchasing decisions. I am opposed to H.R. 1599 as it would undermine a State’s right to pass GMO labeling laws.”
The letter continued, noting that HR1599 would undermine the states’ existing rights to pass food labeling laws, and the rights of consumers to gain basic information. It would also “undermine the concept of a free market based on truth and transparency in labeling.”
While supporters of HR1599 say that consumers can buy organic to avoid GMOs, it’s well worth noting that GMOs are capable of contaminating other crops from miles and miles away, whether corn, canola, or other varieties of plants. Consumers were never given a choice or properly informed as to the genetic engineering of their food supply in the first place, and now find themselves in a situation where 70-80% of packaged foods contain GMO ingredients, even as countries around the world (including Italy, Russia, France and others) recently banned these crops from being grown in their soils.
The letter is expected to be addressed in a Senate briefing scheduled for Oct. 22.
“This is simply a matter of choice.
Many of my neighbors don’t want to eat genetically modified organisms. If the Congressional sponsors of this bill choose to eat this type of food, that is their prerogative,” said Rhode Island, Rep. Blake Filippi.
“But, they should not attempt to deny our neighbors the ability to make that same choice.”