what was officially said and what not.
The original source for the story is attributed to a German left daily, TAZ which printed excerpts from an interview with an official spokeswoman of Monsanto Germany.
Ursula Lüttmer-Ouazane reportedly told Taz "We've come to the conclusion that this has no broad acceptance at the moment.”
Her remarks were circulated worldwide and Reuters interviewed Monsanto corporate spokesman Thomas Helscher who reportedly said, "We're going to sell the GM seeds only where they enjoy broad farmer support, broad political support and a functioning regulatory system. As far as we're convinced this only applies to a few countries in Europe today, primarily Spain and Portugal."
A Monsanto interview with a leftist German paper created the impression around the world that the world’s largest patent-holder of GMO seeds is in full retreat from pushing their GMO seeds, at least in the European Union. The reality is anything but that. Among other things, on June 10 the EU Commission plans to approve a new Monsanto GMO maize sort.
What Monsanto really says…
ers can avoid hexane-extracted foods in the grocery store. View the report in online buyers guide: www.cornucopia.org
When I Look at Candy, All I See Is Petrochemicals and GMO
Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas announced legislation that will require the labeling of GMOs nationally — kind of.
The legislation will be more lenient than a mandate slated to go into effect in Vermont July 1, however. Vermont's law would require products with biotech ingredients to be labeled as produced or partially produced with genetic engineering. Under the Roberts-Stabenow deal, that text would be optional: "Companies could instead use a symbol or an electronic label accessed by smartphone," reports the Associated Press.
In a statement, Roberts said the legislation will protect producers and inform consumers. "Unless we act now, Vermont law denigrating biotechnology and causing confusion in the marketplace is the law of the land," said Roberts. "Our marketplace — both consumers and producers — needs a national biotechnology standard to avoid chaos in interstate commerce."
Among the bill's key provisions is that it essentially preempts Vermont's law from being enacted altogether. As it reads, the Roberts-Stabenow legislation will "immediately prohibit states or other entities from mandating labels of food or seed that is genetically engineered. "
Though it mandates a "national standard" for GMO labeling, the requirements are lax. As it is written, the bill would allow companies to select almost any method to disclose the use of GMOs in a product — including QR codes, 800-numbers, websites, and, of course, on-pack labeling. Which begs the question, what company is going to label its product "Warning: Contains GMOs" when it could just slap a QR code or 800-number on the package instead?
Additionally, the Roberts-Stabenow bill will exempt any type of meat product: "Foods where meat, poultry, and egg products are the main ingredient are exempted. The legislation prohibits the Secretary of Agriculture from considering any food product derived from an animal to be bioengineered solely because the animal may have eaten bioengineered feed."
According to OpenSecrets, agriculture was one of the top five industries to contribute to Roberts' campaigns in recent years. Crop production was one of the top five to contribute to Stabenow's campaigns. So it's perhaps unsurprising that groups such as the American Soybean Association have expressed their support of the duo's measure.
In a press release, the group said the bill would "remove the stigmatization that comes with explicit language on products." That's because, according to ASA first vice president Ron Moore, consumers "react negatively when presented with a product containing a warning label." Moore was quoted in the ASA's release as saying stricter GMO labels would result in more expensive food. "If consumers panic and run from these products based on false stigmatization, companies are forced to reformulate away from this safe and affordable technology."
The Center for Food Safety called the bill a "blow to to the food movement and America's right to know" in a press release sent out Thursday afternoon. Executive Director Andrew Kimbrell went so far as to say it was,"in many ways worse than prior iterations of the DARK Act that were defeated - it is a blank check for biotech."
The so-called DARK Act, otherwise known as the Biotech Labeling Solutions Act, was also introduced by Senator Pat Roberts. That bill would have made GMO labeling for foods strictly voluntary, and prevented states from enacting their own legislature to mandate GMO labeling. The Senate blocked that bill in March.
According to Kimbrell, Roberts' new legislation is just the DARK Act 2.0 — one essentially crafted to benefit Big Ag, and keep consumers in the dark.
Daren Bakst, a Research Fellow in Agricultural Policy at the Heritage Foundation (a conservative think tank), agrees that the new bill is even worse than the Biotech Labeling Solutions Act — but for entirely different reasons. "The issue of mandatory labeling is about misleading consumers by giving the impression that there's something wrong with genetically-engineered food," he says. "It legitimizes bad science."
Though much has been made of the cost of enacting such a bill (companies would have to pay increased labeling costs in order to comply, for instance), Bakst says there's a larger concern: that the law would essentially allow the federal government to compel speech — a First Amendment violation.
"Satisfying the curiosity of consumers is not valid justification for the government to compel speech," he says. "Labeling costs are important, but they pale in comparison to these other concerns — compelled speech, misleading consumers."
If the legislation is enacted, he says, the federal government could face lawsuits regarding that very issue. Agriculture and biotechnology, he adds, could suffer as a result of the bill, no matter how weak it might seem.
"Terms like 'genetic engineering' or 'genetically modified' don't sound very good and there's a lot of misinformation out there," says Bakst. "Biotechnology and agriculture has all kinds of incredible potential to help keep people safe from dangerous pests, to feed the world... that's something that we don't want to risk."
Polls have shown the vast majority of U.S. residents are in favor of labeling GMOs (some surveys have found as many as 77 percent of respondents strongly favor the idea). Yet some studies suggest that genetically engineered or modified ingredients are just as safe as conventional crops.
Update, 5:28 p.m.: This post has been updated to include statements from Daren Bakst and the Center for Food Safety.
Pretty Much Everyone Is in Favor of GMO Labeling [E]
GMOs Have No Impact on Human Health, New Study Claims [E]
All GMO Coverage [E]
Senators reach deal on GMO labeling [AP]
Foods will label all such foods in its markets. Well, at least it’s a long-term victory; the organic-foods chain will require the labels on all the foods it sells by 2018.
But in truth, this is also a victory for the forces that opposed Proposition 37, the failed initiative on the November ballot that would have required such labeling for almost all foods in all grocery stores: the companies that create the foods, such as Monsanto; the supermarkets that would have borne the legal liability; and the people who simply think there’s too much fear and suspicion of foods they consider to be safe.
TPS was created in 2011, in time for our first 9/11 Truth Marathon. Many thanks to Jim and SkyBlueEyes for helping with the background design and layout and Sky, BP, IC Freedom and others for all the hours spent in the Conference room for our Popcorn & Movie Topic Nights.