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A Status Report on House Agricultural Committee’s
Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture
Hearing Entitled, “To Consider the Societal Benefits of Biotechnology”
July 9, 2014
Chairman: Austin Scott, (GA-8)
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (MO-4)
Rep. Jeff Denham (CA-10)
Rep. Stephen Lee Fincher (TN-8)
Rep. Doug LaMalfa (CA-1)
Rep. Rodney Davis (IL-13)
Rep. Chris Collins (NY-27)
Rep. Ted S. Yoho (FL-3)
Ranking Member: Kurt Schrader, (OR-5)
Rep. Suzan K. DelBene (WA-1)
Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16)
Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11)
Rep. Ann M. Kuster (NH-2)
Rep. Juan Vargas (CA-51)
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18)
Witness List: (Testimony is hyperlinked to their name)
Mr. David Just, Professor, Co-Director, Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Dr. Calestous Juma, Professor, Practice of International Development, and Director, Science, Technology, and Globalization Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Cambridge, MA
Dr. Olga Bolden-Tiller, Assistant Professor, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL
Mrs. Joanna Lidback, Owner, The Farm at Wheeler Mountain, Westmore, VT
The goal of this hearing was to address the benefits of biotechnology ahead of a hearing slated to take place in the Energy and Commerce Committee in a few weeks. While there was an opportunity for a ‘minority’ witness, both sides of the aisle agreed on the four witnesses, and thus there was no ‘opposition’ witness requested. It was confirmed with staff that conflict of interest statements were required, and that no industry affiliation was listed on any witness.
There were about five members of the Committee present. Rodney Davis of Illinois served as Chair for this hearing as Chairman Scott had a cold and could not talk. Rep. Davis spoke at length about the need to improve food production to feed the planet and the lectures of Paul Erlich from 25 years ago. Ranking Democrat and veterinarian, Kurt Schrader of Oregon, who happened to completed his undergraduate degree at Cornell, Doug LaMalfa of California whose family grows conventional seed rice in California, Suzan DelBene of Washington State whose has a background of biotechnology work in the life sciences, and Ted Yoho another veterinarian from Alachua, Florida, home to a large agricultural biotech center. Representative LaMalfa is a cosponsors of the industry written, HR 4432.
This hearing is a one-sided presentation to the Subcommittee on the benefits of biotech foods (GMO). The witness list has been carefully constructed to bring a variety of promotional issues. The overall thrust of the hearing is that the public has been misled and misinformed by GMO myths, and that onerous regulations on farms and innovative companies. The focus is on the need to improve and increase crop production to feed the planet.
Dr. Just;s testimony focused on his research analyzing how consumers “tend to lump food that is labeled as having been genetically engineered together with categories of foods such as those that contain chemical preservatives or other ingredients with long names that sound overly technical, or foods that are highly processed and factory produced.” It is his opinion that when consumers are informed of how specific crops are developed to address specific needs, that consumers loose fear and are more willing to buy. In questions, he provided that he feels that if there was mandatory labeling on the front of the packaging, it would be viewed as a warning, and if included in the ingredients list on the back, that most consumers would not know it was there. He also indicated that the disdain for GMO foods may lead some companies to be less innovative in GMO development, and is having a chilling effect in academic research environments, driving the research back to industry.
Dr. Juma is a plant from the Gates Foundation. Not included in his testimony, but posted on his Harvard website is his bio, which includes: Calestous Juma is Professor of the Practice of International Development and Director of the Science, Technology, and Globalization Project. He directs the Agricultural Innovation in Africa Project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and serves as Faculty Chair of Innovation for Economic Development executive program. Juma is a former Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and Founding Director of the African Centre for Technology Studies in Nairobi. He is co-chair of the African Union’s High-Level Panel on Science, Technology and Innovation and a jury member of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering. He was Chancellor of the University of Guyana and has been elected to several scientific academies including the Royal Society of London, the US National Academy of Sciences, the World Academy of Sciences, the UK Royal Academy of Engineering and the African Academy of Sciences. He has won several international awards for his work on sustainable development. He holds a doctorate in science and technology policy studies and has written widely on science, technology, and environment. Juma serves on the boards ofseveral international bodies andis editor of the International Journal of Technology and Globalisation and theInternational Journal of Biotechnology. His latest book, The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa, was published by Oxford University Press in 2011.
Dr. Juma focused his testimony on how biotech foods save lives in Africa, that the UK is now revisting its laws on GMOs because industry in the UK is adversely affected by the laws. He feels that he concerns initially put forward when GMO were first being developed have continued although the fears have not been substantiated. Towards the end he compared the GMO discussion to the margarine-butter debate. He also promoted adverse information about the opposition. He feels that those who oppose GMO crops should disclose their source of funding the same as scientists do. He also talked about how the Philippines and Uganda have not moved forward with allowing golden rice and golden bananas because their legislators have been blocked by activists from within and outside the country. (Rep. Davis and Schrader both talked ‘weak governments’, and not having the political will. Rep. Davis also mentioned political turmoil.)
In addition to GMO crops, he is also thinks we should be promoted GM animals. He stated that 28 countries, most developing, are planting GMO crops and that the US risks falling behind technologically because of the misperceptions of the risks.
Dr. Bolden-Tiller from Tuskegee focused her comments on focused on the history of crop modification (George Washington Carver is a heavy influence at Tuskegee). Her testimony included these comments: And the facts are these: 1) the incorporation of GMO crops into operations in developing countries result in increased farm incomes and reduced
labor associated with agricultural practices, allowing for more time for education and other avenues of income; 2)it is predicted that food production must double within the next 30 years to meet the demand of the projected population; 3) biotechnology provides scientists with answers that can result in the production of more affordable foods while sustaining the environment. This is not to say that technology should be haphazardly implored, as care must be taken and questions must be asked. Carver suggested that “man is simply nature’s agent…to assist her in her work, hence the more careful and scientific the man, the more valuable he is as an aid to nature in carrying out her plans methodically….” Irrespective of one’s positions, it is sure that society must be educated about current biotechnology and forthcoming tools to come for the future.” She concurred with the theme that the consumer has been misled.
Mrs. Lidback, the Vermont mother, farmer and full time employee of the Farm Credit Bureau. She was there as a representative of the Agri-Mark Dairy Cooperative and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. She and her husband rent their 200 acre farm from relatives. She was the perfect industry witness, she stated that she never busy organic foods as they have additional nutritional benefit, that the price of organic feed for her cattle would cost the farm an additional $75,000 a year, which they could not afford. Towards the end of her testimony she even almost cried (as if on cue) in talking about the worry of her sons going in to farming. Towards the end of the hearing she piped in a comment about the need to have only voluntary labeling.
It is important to be aware of the early strategies and positioning of those who want voluntary labeling of GMOs and how one sided is the education and research being shared. There is a renewed need to get experts and researchers to share their knowledge before the committee.
This conference is one of the finest in a long time, Sponsored by the Hippocrates Health Institute and Steve Shore – absolutely fantastic perspective on food and health.
see http://moms4pop.org Dr Gabriel Cousens and Dr Brian Clement – Geneticall Engineered Food Linked with Iodine Deficiency and Congenital Birth Defects: Toxic Halogens called “salts” hidden behind the GE non-disclosure veil. by Rabbi Gabriel Cousens, MD, MD(H), Dr. Brian Clement, Nonnie Crystal and Rudhi Lenardi (POP Campaign)
As pioneers of the vibrant, alive blueprint for health at the Tree of Life Center U.S. and Hippocrates Health Institute, The POP Campaign strives to protect the healthy lifestyle threshold against the tsunami of genetically modified organisms (GMO) for the article see: http://moms4pop.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mark Kastel, 608-625-2042
Unveiled: GMO Labeling Opponents
Come Out of the Shadows
Natural/Organic Brands No Longer Hiding
Behind Lobbying Organization
CORNUCOPIA, WI: Proposition I-522, a citizen’s initiative on the November 5 ballot in Washington state that would mandate clear labeling of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients on food packages, has become the most expensive initiative campaign in the state’s history. The high-priced battleground is pitting consumer and farmer advocates against multi-billion-dollar agribusiness corporations.
A number of new opponents to the GMO food labeling proposal were recently revealed following the release of their names by the Grocery Manufacturers Association(GMA), a national business lobbying organization. The GMA had been, apparently in violation of state election law, hiding the identity of its donors who had provided more than $7.2 million to fight the consumer’s right to know what is in their food. The disclosure came shortly after Washington’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit demanding the GMA reveal the identity of its secret donors.
With the outing of the GMA’s donors, The Cornucopia Institute has released an updated infographic detailing the financial expenditures of corporate and organizational supporters and opponents of I-522.
“Consumers might be surprised to find out that some of their favorite organic and natural brands, hiding behind their lobbyist, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, are contributing bushel baskets of cash towards thwarting their right to make informed choices in the supermarket,” says Mark Kastel, Cornucopia’s Codirector.
A similar GMO labeling measure, Prop 37, was narrowly defeated in California last year, with GMA, Monsanto and their allies pouring more than $46 million into their campaign and outspending labeling supporters by five to one. Many prominent organic and natural brands were also exposed in California by Cornucopia for their opposition to GMO food labeling.
“We think the bad press and consumer outrage that many of the GMA member companies received in California, like Kellogs (Kashi), General Mills (Cascadian Farms/Muir Glen) and Smucker’s (Santa Cruz and Knudsen), led to the decision to try to clandestinely hide under the GMA’s cloak with its secret donor approach,” noted Kastel.
The Cornucopia infographic also outlines dozens of organic brands that have heavily contributed to the YES on I-522 campaign, including Dr Bronner’s, Nature’s Path, Annie’s, Stonyfield Farm and Nutiva. It is thought that after the dust settled in California, these groups gained respect and market share after some of the prominent, agribusiness-owned brands lost favor with politically savvy consumers.
A number of prominent organizations have also substantially contributed in support of consumer rights, including the Organic Consumers Association, Center for Food Safety, Mercola.com, Presence Marketing, PCC Natural Markets and Food Democracy Now!.
Earlier this year, the GMA publicly scrubbed its website of its members, a move thought by many to be an effort to mask which corporations/brands were helping underwrite corporate donations against I-522. They weren’t, however, able to remove this web archive detailing their membership.
“In addition to the many companies supporting a YES vote on I-522, there are thousands of individuals making small donations to fund the pro-labeling campaign,” said Goldie Caughlan, a retired nutrition educator for PCC Natural Markets in Seattle and former member of the National Organic Standards Board. “Out-of-state interests, like Monsanto and the many identified GMA members, are flooding our airwaves with misleading ads telling Washington residents how to vote,” Caughlan added.
Mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food at the state level is viewed as a watershed event by many industry observers, given the inaction on the popular proposal at the federal level – with polls showing as high as a 90% in support. Lobbyists for Monsanto, its biotech allies, and GMA in particular, have been credited with bottlenecking a federal labeling law.
After the industry advertising blitz, the most recent polling of Washington state voters indicates a tightening race on the I-522 initiative, with a narrow majority supporting labeling of GMO food ingredients. Opponents of the measure have raised in excess of $17.1 million. The GMA’s share of the NO vote dollar alone, at $7.2 million, is greater than all of the money raised by I-522 supporters, who have collected nearly $6.9 million in favor of a YES vote.
“Consumers and food citizens are increasingly interested in ‘voting with their forks,’ and many want to support companies that share their values,” observes Jason Cole, a researcher for Cornucopia who compiled the data for the infographic. “We think these conscious eaters will appreciate the infographic created by Cornucopia to help them make their purchasing decisions.”
SMART VIDEO that supports the POP Campaign’s efforts to end the promiscuity tendencies of Genetic Engineered Crops raping our minerals and nutrients from our organic plants. Save our children, jail glyphosate as the perpetrator – Dr. Huber is a solid scientist – stay tuned Dr. Huber has the depth of 50 years as a researcher – he underscores the huge economic monopoly and money making values behind GE food at the expense of us humans as experiments. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrq_1ovWlVE
The POP Campaign Co-Hosts Dr. Brian Clement in Seattle on July 25th – getting traction on GMO Labeling Prop 522
FINAL LET’S GET FOLKS THERE: The POP Campaign is co-hosting Dr. Brian Clement with the yummy THRIVE Restaurant in Seattle. Dr. Brian, Director of the Hippocrates Health Institute, will be speaking about the healthy, vibrant lifestyle of living foods and updates on GMO Labeling and the Proposition 522 Labeling Efforts int he State of Washington. An amazing opportunity to learn cutting edge health information and elevate your game. USE PROMO CODE FOR A DISCOUNT : THRIVE20 – BASTYR UNIVERSITY AUDITORIUM – sign up: @http://www.generationthrive.com/events Dr. Brian Clement flyer
We are powerful as a group and must continue to educate people to stand up for their rights to label Genetically Engineered Foods – the GMO industry has been nervous and met in Washington to discuss ways to fight back, throw more money to counter efforts and to strategize for a national labeling bill – we wait and ask for support for our efforts. See the article in the Hill:
Key summit set in genetically modified food label fight – By Ben Goad –
Major players in the food industry have scheduled a crucial meeting for next week that could become a turning point in the regulatory battle over genetically modified foods.
Challenges to the use of biotechnology have created an “unprecedented period of turmoil” for food producers, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) said in a letter circulated among trade groups that was obtained by The Hill.
“We have reached a pivotal point in this effort and believe now is the time to bring together a broad coalition to confront these challenges,” the GMA wrote in the letter, which invited CEOs and top industry officials to a Wednesday summit in Washington.
Just how the food industry might move forward appears up for debate. Though organizers of the GMA summit were tight-lipped, advocates and industry officials said the options could ultimately range from a coordinated attack against labels to acceptance of a national standard.
The GMA’s membership list includes more than 300 companies, including food giants Kraft Foods, Coca Cola and General Mills. The group declined to discuss the meeting or whether it would propose a particular strategy.
“As the policy debate surrounding this issue moves forward, GMA will continue to work with its supply chain partners to inform lawmakers and consumers about the significant negative impacts such labeling requirements will have on both businesses and consumers,” the group said in a written statement to The Hill.
Opponents of mandatory labeling argue that foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are perfectly healthy and indistinguishable from “natural” products. Labels could create a false perception that the foods are somehow inferior, they say, and create a stigma that causes prices to rise.
For years, farmers have planted herbicide resistant or “roundup ready” corn, cotton and soybeans that can be easily sprayed for weeds. The genetically modified crops are used in a variety of popular processed foods, including soft drinks, margarine and breakfast cereal.
Food safety and public interest groups question claims that GMOs are safe, arguing the science is inconclusive. They have pressed for all GMO foods to be labeled so that consumers are aware of what that they’re eating.
The fight over labels is increasingly being waged at the state level — and at substantial cost to foodstuff manufacturers.
Last year, major chemical and food companies spent more than $40 million in California to defeat a ballot measure that called for mandatory labels of all scientifically engineered foods sold in the state.
Similar labeling proposals have popped up in more than two-dozen states and in Congress, and the industry group says it cannot afford to fight them all.
“Today consumers have a high degree of confidence in the safety of the U.S. food supply,” the GMA wrote in the letter. But that confidence could be eroded, the GMA warned, by 25 proposals pending in state legislatures, a ballot initiative on deck in Washington State, and the federal push for mandatory labels.
Thus far, two state legislatures — Maine and Connecticut — have approved legislation requiring labels on genetically modified foods. Governors in both states are expected to sign the bills, according to Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs at the Center for Food Safety.
O’Neil’s group has pressed the Food and Drug Administration to act unilaterally on regulations for GMO labels since a legislative mandate is unlikely to pass Congress. The FDA has not responded to the request.
Interests on both sides of the debate are watching the Washington initiative closely. Adoption of state labeling laws could subject food companies to a patchwork of regulations that would be far more costly than a federal standard, O’Neil said.
“These companies would like to see any language that would preempt state law,” he said. “A federal standard would likely do that.”
O’Neil said industry concerns over state level action, therefore, have long begged the question: “When does the labeling fight come to D.C.?”
Some industry sources said they viewed Wednesday’s meeting as a significant event, but declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issues at hand.
Officials from the Produce Marketing Association were among those invited, though they would not be able to attend, spokeswoman Meg Miller said.
As for the group’s expectations of what the result might be: “We don’t have any at this point,” she said.
URGENT * URGENT * URGENT GMO ISSUE IN CONGRESS – CALL SENATORS AND – FILL IN YES 0 ON TESTER AMENDMENT – 1 QUESTION QUESTIONNAIRE
PLEASE Call Senators Mikulski, Shelby, and Reid and your own two senators.
Message to Senators Mikulski, Reid, and Shelby: I do not support Given the Secretary of Agriculture the Power to Ignore the Courts on GMO Seed Planting – Please Allow a Vote on Senator Tester’s Amendment 74 (Or simple strike Section 735 from the bill.)
Message to Your Two Senators: I do not support Given the Secretary of Agriculture the Power to Ignore the Courts on GMO Seed Planting – Please Vote to Support Senator Tester’s Amendment 74 to Strike Section 735.
Time is crucial on this. Senator Reid wants to vote on Monday – so we need to get calls in today and Monday morning – and the survey by the end of the weekend.
Senator Mikulski (202) 224-4654
Senator Shelby (202) 224-5744
Senator Reid (202) 224-3542
All other numbers at: http://www.senate.gov/”
The Issue: Section 735 of the Senate Version of HR 933 (The Appropriations Bill That Will Keep the Government Funded Through September 30.) This provision is intended to give the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to ignore court rulings barring the planting of GMO seeds. Monsanto, Bayer, and others (with the Gate Foundation an major stockholder of Monsanto doing a lot of lobbying) want to get their seeds planted without proving safety
The Solution: Senate Amendment 74 introduced by Senator Jon Tester with Senators Leahy, Gillibrand,Boxer, Begich, and Blumenthal would strike Section 735
Another Action Item – but time is running out:
Everyone Should Take the One Question Survey Posted at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GMOProvisioninBudgetBill
You can also insert it on your facebook or webpage by using: Click here to take survey
I am outraged and laughing at the manipulations and fear tactics of the FDA. It just posted a Friday Food Safety notice to be wary of raw sprouts because of the risk of food borne illness such as salmonella and E. coli. They claim that there have been 30 reported outbreaks within the past 16 years and that the problem is with the seed itself. They caution even home grown sprouts including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung beans.) They also caution people with challenged immune systems, children and pregnant women to not eat sprouts raw or lightly cooked.
Such BS. The problems come with the chicken, bat, and cow manure in the sol used or leaking downstream into water sources used. This comment is based on 30 reports over 16 years – what about the 100 million plus instances where people have eaten sprouts and not only boosted their immune systems and helped challenge certain diseases but also went away healthy with smiles. I wonder if the FDA has ever posted reports from years ago that a rumored 240 deaths a day are traced to meat consumption –opps, gotta be careful of the meat industry.
The POP Campaign is conducting more research to address the details in case this mushrooms into a huge strategy of control or regulation – or setting the stage for massive GE planting of sprouts.
MONSANTO SLOWED – SAY THANKS NOW: The POP Campaign’s Mom of 4 in DC, Beth Clay, spoke with Senator Mikulski’s Office recently on pulling the Monsanto Rider out of the Appropriations Bill. GREAT NEWS is that Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chair of Appropriation Committee, is willing to do this (H.J.RES.59) We @ the POP Campaign are very strategic and pragmatic -right now – we want you to THANK HER – NOW – Please Go to her web-site & thank her & show it matters – www.mikulski.senate.gov/contact/. (H.J.RES.59) She needs to know people around the country support this action. Tough to call right now but if you want to: (202) 224-4654.
This is only a 3 month extension and the larger efforts to share what we know will be in November and December. More and more people are concerned about the Genetically Engineered contamination of our food chain; however, the other major issue that has surfaced here is the Constitutionality of the Rider when it flies in the face of Judicial authority.