The Solution to the Senate Betraying the American People on GMO Labeling

by Melissa Diane Smith, author of Going Against GMOs

July-August 2016 Book Special(Opinion) – Are you appalled, outraged, or incensed that less than a week after mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) went into effect in Vermont, our country’s senators acted to preempt that law and prevent future state GMO labeling laws? Virtually everyone who knows even a few facts about the situation is.

Under the first-in-the-nation GMO labeling law to be enacted, consumers could easily determine whether the products they were considering buying were real foods or pseudo-foods, most of which are doused with probable cancer-causing pesticides. The Vermont law was working—many national companies had already clearly labeled their foods to comply with the law, and CocaCola products were being pulled off store shelves because they didn’t want to label them as containing GMOs.

But instead of letting the law in Vermont stand (or, better yet, make the Vermont law the standard for a national law, as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders proposed in an amendment), 68 senators prostituted themselves, sold our country out to Big Money, and passed a nonsensical Senate bill that makes it impossible for the masses to look at a package and instantly determine whether GMOs are in the foods they’re buying. People are supposed to have a smart phone and take the time to scan a QR code on each product to get the information they want.

“The idea that people would need to walk around the grocery store scanning product codes just to find out what’s in the food they’re buying is ridiculous and unfair,” said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, who opposed the measure.

The measure now heads to the U.S. House, which last summer passed its own version of what’s known as the Denying Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act. If the House and Senate reach an agreement on the DARK Act, it will be voted on in the House, and if it passes, the bill will then land on President Obama’s desk where he will either veto it or sign it into law.

Problems with the Bill

Establishment media can spin the Senate’s passing of this industry-written bill as we’re one step closer to a uniform federal mandatory GMO labeling solution, but that’s simply to confuse the public about this outrageous legislation.

As Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) explained in OCA’s newsletter the day after the Senate’s vote:

The bill…is intended to hide information (behind electronic codes) from consumers, not provide it—in plain English, on a label.

The bill…is intended to exempt the vast majority of GMOs from even having to be hidden behind codes, much less labeled in plain sight.

The bill…is voluntary—it contains no enforcement mechanism, no penalties for non-compliance.

The bill…is an attack on democracy, an attack on states’ rights. It not only overturns Vermont’s carefully considered and fairly debated mandatory GMO labeling law, but as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) noted in his speech on the Senate floor, this bill overturns nearly 100 other state laws. (Sanders pushed hard to stop this bill).

The bill…is a fraud, an affront to the nine out of 10 Americans who want what citizens in 64 countries already have—the basic right to know what’s in our food.

Where Do We Go From Here?

With the complete and utter anger, frustration, and helplessness people who care about their health feel about this situation, the question is: where do we go from here?

The Long-Term Solution

The long-term solution to fat-cat politicians not representing us is to vote them out of office and elect new public servants who do! I left messages for my two senators, Sen. Jeff Flake and Sen. John McCain, telling them I would be watching their vote very carefully. I implored them to do the right thing and vote against the sham of a bill that prevents the clear, transparent labeling that the American people want. To my unexpected pleasant surprise, Sen. Flake ended up being one of only seven Republican senators who did the right thing and voted against it. Sen. McCain, on the other hand, reportedly received an astounding $4 million dollars from Monsanto and other companies that wanted the industry-created bill to pass, and he voted for it. I say that all elected officials who vote for corporate interests over our interests need to suffer the consequences and be voted out of office!

Before the House votes on this non-GMO labeling bill, I will call my representative urging her to vote no on it. (It might not help as she voted for the House’s DARK Act last year, but I’m still giving it a shot!) If you’d like to leave a comment telling your representative to vote no on this ludicrous bill, call 888-754-9091 or 202-224-3121, and follow the prompts to reach the Congressman for your area.

You can also sign this MoveOn.org petition (which already has over 107,000 signatures) and this We The People WhiteHouse.gov petition (which triggers an official response from the President once it hits 100,000). The latter petition in particular emphasizes how discriminatory this bill is to low-income families, minorities, mothers, seniors, the disabled and those without smartphones. Both petitions ask the president to stand up for all Americans and veto this bill. I have signed them and urge you to do the same: I think this is a smart strategy to try and stop this undemocratic bill. I’ll also call the president if it gets to his desk.

Let me just add that we don’t know how this will play out in the long run. But, as of right now, it doesn’t look good for us getting clear information about the presence of genetically modified ingredients in our foods.

Even though it’s infuriating that our elected officials won’t listen to us and vote for what we want, labeling legislation is not—and has never been—my focus. Why? Because it takes too long to get it to happen. If and when it does happen, there are too many loopholes plus lack of enforcement and no penalties when companies don’t comply with labeling laws. See my Special Report: Why We Need to Focus on GMO Boycotts and Bans.

The Immediate Solution

The immediate solution to our government not giving us GMO labeling is to channel our disgust over the present political system, ignite our own personal power, and put our effort and focus on avoiding GMOs in the shopping we do right now. We can do that even without mandatory labeling by taking a little time to learn the genetically modified crops on the market and not buying them in all their different forms when we shop. My book Going Against GMOs gives all the information you need to know to step by step change your habits to say no to GMOs.

The more of us who individually say no to GMOs to the best of our ability, the more we create a collective economic wave that will force companies away from growing and using GMOs in food products because they realize that using GMOs is bad for business.

Few people will tell you this, but GMO labeling is in many ways a false security blanket. We tend to think, “Oh, the government will handle this. As long as the government passes this bill, everything will be okay. The law will give us security and protect us from GMOs, and the government will enforce the law.” That isn’t true.

Whether we get labeling or we don’t, it’s important to understand that the real power is in our hands. We can very successfully shop against GMOs without labeling. The more of us who do that, the sooner we can take back our food from toxic agrichemical corporations who are destroying our food and our environment and from politicians who betray us.

Pay Less for the Info You Need

At this critical time in the fight for GMO labeling, I feel so strongly that more people have access to the information they need to be savvy non-GMO shoppers (whether we get labeling or we don’t) that I am offering my Going Against GMOs Call-to-Action Special Edition for $14.99, the lowest price I can offer, until August 10, 2016. Please take advantage of this special price and learn how to use your consumer power efficiently—then spread the word to your friends and family.

Remember: The long-term plan is to vote the corrupt politicians out of office and bring in a Brand New Congress.

The immediate plan is don’t wait for the government to take care of our food. Use our personal power to start shopping non-GMO right now.

Copyright 2016 Melissa Diane Smith

 

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