Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

The United States of Monsanto?

Food

This week thousands of Americans took time out of their busy days to call their Senators to demand that they vote against the DARK Act, a bill sponsored by Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, which would prevent consumers from knowing if the food they eat and feed their families contains genetically engineered (GMO) ingredients. Their support for GMO labeling was echoed by more than 600 organizations, including farming and fishing groups and food companies, representing tens of millions of members and customers who this week also urged the Senate to reject this troubling bill.

This week thousands of Americans took time out of their busy days to call their Senators to demand that they vote against the DARK Act.

GMO crops are created by transferring genetic material from one organism into another to create specific traits, such as resistance to treatment with herbicides or to make a plant produce its own pesticide to repel insects. Unlike traditional plant and animal breeding, which tries to develop better varieties by selecting traits from the same species, genetic engineering techniques can insert specific genes from any plant, animal or microorganism into the DNA of a different species.

The DARK Act passed out of committee last week by a 14-6 vote and is expected to hit the Senate floor any day now. The House already passed a similar bill in July. If passed in the Senate, it will block state laws that require labeling of GMOs, instruct the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to implement a voluntary labeling program and kick off a USDA propaganda program to sell the public on GMOs.

But an overwhelming majority of Americans—more than 90 percent in many polls—support GMO labeling. Three states— Vermont, Connecticut and Maine—have passed laws to that effect. Now, some in the Senate want to thwart these efforts. Why is it that so many politicians are all about letting states make decisions on controversial issues—until some states want to do something that Big Food companies oppose?

As with most battles brewing inside the Beltway, the answer can be found at the end of a paper trail—a green paper trail. Monsanto, a leading manufacturer of GMO seeds (and the herbicides used with them) has spent millions of dollars over the past several years to block GMO labeling efforts, most notably state and local ballot initiatives in California, Colorado, Hawaii and Oregon that failed.

Follow the Money

Since 1999, the fifty largest agricultural and food patent-holding companies and two of the largest biotech and agrochemical trade associations have spent more than U.S. $572 million in campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures, much of it to create a favorable political context to allow GMOs to proliferate. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents food companies like Kraft and Pepsi, has spent millions of dollars lobbying in favor of the DARK Act too. Washington's Attorney General recently accused the Grocery Manufacturers Association of maintaining an “egregious" plot to conceal the identity of the corporate donors behind its $11 million campaign to defeat that state's 2013 food-labeling initiative.

What's happening here is painfully obvious. The public is rejecting GMOs, a dubious technology upon which Big Food has built its empire and now it's pulling out all the stops to protect its market shares and its profit margins.

The public is rightfully suspicious of GMOs. We simply don't know enough about their long-term effects, so it's logical that consumers would want to know whether or not they are eating them. Support for GMO labeling is so strong in fact that Campbell's recently announced it would label GMOs in its products and even withdrew its support for anti-labeling efforts. But we can't rely on individual corporations to decide these matters for us.

And “voluntary" labeling is not the answer, either, since it effectively upholds the status quo and translates to very little, if any, labeling at all. While there is talk of amending the DARK Act to include an amendment to encourage voluntary labeling, it's crucial to note that this so-called “compromise" will do little to help consumers know if the food they're eating contains GMOs. This clearly won't do.

Reclaiming Democracy

Industry's attempt to block GMO labeling laws is yet another symptom of a democracy hijacked by corporate interests. We the people have elected our leaders to Congress to represent our interests, because we live in a democracy—not a nation controlled by a corporate oligarchy. At least, that's the way it should be. That's why we're urging the Senate to reject the DARK Act and any compromise that results in anything less than on-package labeling that tells consumers if a product contains GMO ingredients.

This piece was originally featured on Food & Water Watch.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

California Widow Sues Monsanto Alleging Roundup Caused Her Husband's Cancer

7 Reasons Why the U.S. Government Must Label GMOs

France, Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands Rebel Against Relicensing of Monsanto's Glyphosate

Why Is Glyphosate Sprayed on Crops Right Before Harvest?

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Michael Svoboda

The enduring pandemic will make conventional forms of travel difficult if not impossible this summer. As a result, many will consider virtual alternatives for their vacations, including one of the oldest forms of virtual reality – books.

Read More Show Less
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility on Thursday accused NOAA of ignoring its own scientists' findings about the endangerment of the North Atlantic right whale. Lauren Packard / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Julia Conley

As the North Atlantic right whale was placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's list of critically endangered species Thursday, environmental protection groups accusing the U.S. government of bowing to fishing and fossil fuel industry pressure to downplay the threat and failing to enact common-sense restrictions to protect the animals.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Beth Ann Mayer

Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.

Read More Show Less
Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. JustTulsa / CC BY 2.0

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

Read More Show Less
The Firefly Watch project is among the options for aspiring citizen scientists to join. Mike Lewinski / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Tiffany Means

Summer and fall are great seasons to enjoy the outdoors. But if you're already spending extra time outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be out of ideas on how to make fresh-air activities feel special. Here are a few suggestions to keep both adults and children entertained and educated in the months ahead, many of which can be done from the comfort of one's home or backyard.

Read More Show Less
People sit at the bar of a restaurant in Austin, Texas, on June 26, 2020. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered bars to be closed by noon on June 26 and for restaurants to be reduced to 50% occupancy. Coronavirus cases in Texas spiked after being one of the first states to begin reopening. SERGIO FLORES / AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus may linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, spreading from one person to the next, the World Health Organization acknowledged on Thursday, as The New York Times reported. The announcement came just days after 239 scientists wrote a letter urging the WHO to consider that the novel coronavirus is lingering in indoor spaces and infecting people, as EcoWatch reported.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A never-before-documented frog species has been discovered in the Peruvian highlands and named Phrynopus remotum. Germán Chávez

By Angela Nicoletti

The eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in central Perú are among the most remote places in the world.

Read More Show Less