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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.
ALL OF OUR EFFORTS ARE COMING TO A HEAD NOW IN CONGRESS – WE WILL KEEP YOU POSTED AS WE PREPARE TO HAVE OUR VOICES HEARD BIG TIME –
MEDIA RELEASE: Boxer, DeFazio Introduce Bill to Require Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods
More than 90 Percent of Americans Support the Right to Know What Is In The Foods We Feed Our Families
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) today introduced the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, legislation that would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to clearly label genetically engineered (GE) foods so that consumers can make informed choices about what they eat.
Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jon Tester (D-MT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) are cosponsors of the Senate bill.
Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Peter Welch (D-VT), James Moran (D-VA), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Don Young (R-AK), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), George Miller (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Ann Kuster (D-NH) are cosponsors of the House bill.
“Americans have the right to know what is in the food they eat so they can make the best choices for their families,” Senator Boxer said. “This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of consumer groups, businesses, farmers, fishermen and parents who all agree that consumers deserve more – not less – information about the food they buy.”
“When American families purchase food, they deserve to know if that food was genetically engineered in a laboratory,” Representative DeFazio said. “This legislation is supported by consumer’s rights advocates, family farms, environmental organizations, and businesses, and it allows consumers to make an informed choice.”
“Despite the prevalence of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in grocery stores and prepared foods, it remains difficult if not impossible for consumers to determine if the foods they eat contain GMOs,” Representative Polis said. “This labeling bill is about empowering consumers: consumers can chose to eat or not eat GMOs, or to pay more or less for GMOs. I believe consumers have a right to know what they are eating so they can make their own informed food choices. I am proud to be working toward more informative food labels.”
“Food is a basic necessity in our everyday lives, and people have a right to know what’s in the food that we eat,” Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said. “I have long been an advocate of labeling food containing GE products because consumers deserve honest, transparent information about their food. This legislation puts consumers first and will empower them to make informed choices for themselves and their families.”
“GMO labeling is an issue I’ve cared deeply about for a long time and is one of the things I hear most often about from constituents,” Congresswoman Pingree said. “I think people have a right to know exactly what they’re feeding themselves and their families. The choice of whether to eat GMO food is best left to the consumer–but there’s no choice to make if we don’t provide them the information.”
According to surveys, more than 90 percent of Americans support the labeling of genetically engineered foods. In fact, many consumers are surprised to learn that GE foods are not already labeled.
Currently, the FDA requires the labeling of over 3,000 ingredients, additives and processes, but the agency has resisted labels for genetically modified foods. In a 1992 policy statement, the FDA allowed GE foods to be marketed without labeling, claiming that these foods were not “materially” different from other foods because the genetic differences could not be recognized by taste, smell or other senses.
Unfortunately, the FDA’s antiquated labeling policy has not kept pace with 21st century food technologies that allow for a wide array of genetic and molecular changes to food that can’t be detected by human senses. Common sense would indicate that GE corn that produces its own insecticide – or is engineered to survive being doused by herbicides – is materially different from traditional corn that does not. Even the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has recognized that these foods are materially different and novel for patent purposes.
Consumers – who are used to reading labels to see if foods contain MSG, gluten, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup or aspartame – clearly want more information. More than one and a half million Americans have filed comments with the FDA urging the agency to label GE foods.
The bipartisan legislation introduced today would require clear labels for genetically engineered whole foods and processed foods, including fish and seafood. The measure would direct the FDA to write new labeling standards that are consistent with U.S. labeling standards and international standards.
Sixty-four countries around the world already require the labeling of GE foods, including all the member nations of the European Union, Russia, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand.
This legislation follows last year’s letter from Senator Boxer, Representative DeFazio and 54 Senate and House lawmakers urging the FDA to require the labeling of GE foods.
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.
Drs. Brian and Anna Maria Clement, Dr. Gabriel Cousins, Viktoras Kulvinskas, Cheri Soria, and many other health educators and healthy businesses are taking a very strong stand in favor of Proposition 37 in California to label genetically engineered food. There is no real argument here. this is a no brainer… and a must…but we have to get the word out. This passage will effect the entire nation on GMO labeling.
3 TO 3 TO 3 TO MAKE HISTORY – we are sparking our networks to ask you to connect with at least 3 people to connect with 3 people to connect with 3 other people who live in California or know someone in California to:
1. Watch and forward these 3 short POP Campaign and MOMS4POP videos
2. Post and share the video links below via email and social media between now and November 6th (copy & paste suggestions below)
3. Make history by voting “YES” on Proposition 37 – To Label Genetically Engineered Food today through November 6, 2012
Copy & Paste: Email and post on Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media:
Everyone you know is NOT AWARE and CONNECTS THE DOTS like you do. Many of our concerned friends are being swayed by millions of dollars of deceptive ads. LET’S MAKE HISTORY TOGETHER and make this happen…. NOW!
JOIN US – we want a tsunami of connections and posts with less than 3 weeks to go ….. this is our time in history to make a difference.
VOTE “YES” ON PROPOSITION 37 To Label Genetically Engineered Food – now through November 6th
firstname.lastname@example.orgDrs. Brian and Anna Maria Clement, Hippocrates Health Institute
Preserve Organic Power!
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There are a number of issues in motion on this topic (POP is IN ACTION) …We are rallying together to preserve our access to PURE ORGANIC FOODS and to choose vibrant health for our inner AND outer environment, as well as educating the masses, policy makers and congress on these issues… it’s time to take the “sneakiness out” of labeling.
You can make a big difference NOW by taking actions below… make a call and fax a letter …and please donate to POP to continue all these efforts.
Also, check out this signed copy of the GE Congressional Dear Colleagues letter for a Bicameral Letter to the FDA Here and see a list of Kucinich Bills and co-sponsor tallies below.
What can you do to help?
A. Phone Calls: Tell him or her that you want mandatory labeling on ALL genetically engineered (or GMO) foods.
– Remind them this is a Non-partisan issue and is important to you and your family.
– This is simply truth in labeling – consumers, including you, have the right to know.
– He/she needs to Co-sponsor HR 3553 (Kucinich –see below)
– There is currently a Dear Colleague letter from Senator Boxer and Congressman Defazio asking for signatures on a Bicameral letter to the FDA supporting the Citizens Petition on mandatory labeling – please support this and sign it.
– More than 20 groups and thousands of citizens have sent a Citizens Petition to the FDA asking for mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods – consumers are concerned.
B. Fax Your Follow-up Letter: The most impact is following up your call with a short letter faxed – see the bicameral colleague letter below – and an example of a letter:
To Your Senator
The Honorable (full name)
Room # ( ), Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator (name):
To Your Representative:
The Honorable (full name)
(Room #)House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable (Name):
I am writing to tell you that I want mandatory labeling on ALL genetically engineered (GE/GMO) foods. This is a simple truth in labeling concern where every consumer should have the right to know clearly what he or she is buying. This is as important to my family as I am certain it is to yours. This is a non-partisan issue.
I am asking that you
1. Sign the Dear Colleague letter from Senator Boxer and Congressman Defazi for a bicameral letter to the FDA to require mandatory labeling and support the Citizens Petition; and,
2. Support and cosponsor HR 3533 Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act (Kucinich – see below) and any similar Senate Bill that might be introduced.
There have been thousands of concerned citizen and over 400 organizations and groups across the country concerned about GE labeling. The time has come to secure a legacy of healthy food for our children for generations to come.
2) GET INVOLVED IN TALKING to candidates and policy makers at all levels of government during this 2012 election cycle. Share knowledge with them and your concerns about protecting organic foods; that quality farming is important to you; and, that you want mandatory labeling of all genetically engineered foods.
3) SUPPORT OUR POP CAMPAIGN EFFORTS – donate or call 415-999-9414 to participate in many other ways.
GMO Bills: Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Democrat from Ohio introduced three bills regarding genetically engineered foods and seeds – for viewing the complete bills, lease link to http://thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.php
H.R.3553: Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act – 19 Co-sponsors
H.R.3554: Genetically Engineered Safety Act – 3 Co-sponsors
H.R.3555: Genetically Engineered Technology Farmer Protection Act – 4 Co-sponsors
Colleague Letter for a Bicameral Letter to the FDA:
Congressman Peter Defazio and Senator Barbara Boxer sent a letter to their colleagues on February 9th asking them to sign onto a letter to the FDA, calling for the FDA to implement mandatory labeling., in alignment with a Citizens Petition submitted.
The following Senators have already signed on: Boxer (CA) Begich (AK) Tester (MT) and Wyden (OR) The following Representative have already signed the letter: DeFazio (OR) Hanna (R-NY) Pingree ME) Kucinich (OH) McGovern (MA) Moran (VA) Stark (CA) Farr (CA) George Miller (CA) and Polis (CO), Filner (CA).
The POP Campaign, with you, is reaching out to legislators, educating them on Genetically Engineered labeling issues and encouraging their signature on a bicameral letter with Senator Boxer and Congressman Defazio.
Click this link to see the letter:
Action Alert for another huge step towards freedom and health- the POP Campaign has been a strong advocate for Genetically Engineered labeling – we are asking everyone to contact their Senators and House of Representatives. Ask them to cosign this Bicameral Letter to the FDA “requesting” that the FDA mandate (GE) labeling of all food. (We will get all of the phone numbers up later.) We are working with the Just Label it Coalition and others on this effort – go team.
Just connected with our DC night owls – the Senate deal has got to be finalized – we are close – must stay actively engaged until the last moment -what is that phrase: never give up until it is over. IT HAS BEEN A WILD RIDE – Tonight, the Senate dropped the 2000 page $1.3 Trillion Earmark filled, Pork laden Omnibus bill from consideration (good for vegans:))- keep the pressure on – possibly the Food Safety Bill will die here – stay tuned – stay active -expect miracles.
September 13: Senators Leahy and Franken introduced S. 3767, the Food Safety Accountability Act. In July they had introduced S. 3669 the Food Safety Enforcement Act of 2010 which was referred to the Senate HELP Committee because it dealt with Title 21, the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. This new bill modifies Title 18, the Criminal Code, Chapter 47 the Fraud and False Statements section.
This means not just the FDA would be involved when there is a ‘misbranding’ or ‘adulteration’ – it means that the Justice Department has immediate jurisdiction and someone can actually go to jail.
This is a hardball maneuver with a couple of possible strategies. It could be done to force S. 510, Food Safety Bill, for a vote, or it could be that there is a desire to see this stand alone bill happen this year because S. 510 is not moving. It is also likely that there is a maneuver to see this bill (or one of the earlier bills) added to S. 510. The Senator the power, if S. 510 comes to the floor for a vote, to offer it as an amendment and may well succeed.
This is very bad for the organic food industry in general, but it is HORRIBLE for the dietary supplement industry. Remember, ‘misbranding’ or ‘adulteration’ are the mechanisms that the FDA uses when they do not agree with the language on the label or packaging of a supplement. (i.e. making a drug claim, or using language the FDA interprets as a drug claim.) This inserts the Justice Department and criminal penalties from the very beginning into every instance in which there is a contaminated food product including dietary supplements as well as a misbranded product (i.e. a problem with the label.)
Over and over again, we see a reactionary approach topolicy where either “one size fits all “ or “a chainsaw approach were a scalpel is needed”.
“Frankly,” states Beth Clay, “ Congress just needs to put off food safety legislation until 2011 and the 112th Congress. This ripped from the headlines legislative approach is not good for the country.”
We all have to be ready to send letters about stopping both bills.
Here are Statements from the Senator Floor yesterday:
S. 3767. A bill to establish appropriate criminal penalties for certain knowing violations relating to food that is misbranded or adulterated; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, today, I am pleased to introduce the Food Safety Accountability Act with Senators KLOBUCHAR and FRANKEN. This common sense bill will hold criminals who poison our food supply accountable for their crimes. It introduces a new criminal provision and increases the sentences that prosecutors can seek for people who knowingly violate our food safety laws. If it is passed, those who knowingly contaminate our food supply and endanger Americans could receive up to 10 years in jail.
This summer, a salmonella outbreak causing hundreds of people to fall ill triggered a national egg recall. The cause of the outbreak is still under investigation, but salmonella poisoning is all too common and sometimes results from inexcusable knowing conduct. Just last year, a mother from Vermont, Gabrielle Meunier, testified before the Senate Agriculture Committee about her 7-year-old son, Christopher, who became severely ill and was hospitalized for 6 days after he developed salmonella poisoning from peanut crackers. Thankfully, Christopher recovered, and Mrs. Meunier was able to share her story, which highlighted for the Committee and for the Senate improvements that are needed in our food safety system. No parent should have to go through what Mrs. Meunier experienced. The American people should be confident that the food they buy for their families is safe.
Current statutes do not provide sufficient criminal sanctions for those who knowingly violate our food safety laws. The fines and recalls that usually result from criminal violations under current law fall short in protecting the public from harmful products. Too often, those who are willing to endanger our children in pursuit of profits view such fines or recalls as merely the cost of doing business. Indeed, the company responsible for the eggs at the root of the current salmonella crisis has a long history of environmental, immigration, labor and food safety violations. It is clear that civil and criminal fines are not enough to protect the public and effectively deter this unacceptable conduct. We need to make sure that those who knowingly poison the food supply will go to jail. The bill I introduce today will add a new criminal provision and increase sentences for people who put profits above safety by knowingly contaminating the food supply.
After hearing Mrs. Meunier’s account, I called on the Department of Justice to conduct a criminal investigation into the outbreak of salmonella that made Christopher and many others so sick. The outbreak was traced to the Peanut Corporation of America. The president of that company, Stewart Parnell, came before Congress and invoked his right against self-incrimination, refusing to answer questions about his role in distributing contaminated peanut products. These products were linked to the deaths of nine people and have sickened more than 600 others. It appears that Parnell knew that peanut products from his company had tested positive for deadly salmonella, but rather than immediately disposing of the products, he sought ways to sell them anyway. The evidence suggests that he knowingly put profit above the public’s safety. Our laws must be strengthened to ensure this does not happen again. This bill significantly increases the chances that those who commit food safety crimes will face jail time, rather than a slap on the wrist, for their criminal conduct.
I hope Senators of both parties will act quickly to pass this bill. On behalf of Mrs. Meunier and her son, Christopher, as well as the hundreds of individuals sickened by this summer’s and last year’s salmonella outbreaks, we must repair our broken food safety system. The Justice Department must be given the tools it needs to investigate, prosecute, and truly deter crime involving food safety. If Congress acts to pass it, this bill will be an important step toward making our food supply safer.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
The Bill itself:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the “Food Safety Accountability Act of 2010”.
SEC. 2. CRIMINAL PENALTIES.
(a) In General.–Chapter 47 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following: “§1041. Misbranded and adulterated food
“(a) In General.–It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly–
“(1) introduce or deliver for introduction into interstate commerce any food that is adulterated or misbranded; or
“(2) adulterate or misbrand any food in interstate commerce.
“(b) Penalty.–Any person who violates subsection (a) shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both.”.
(b) Technical and Conforming Amendment.–The table of sections for chapter 47 of
title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
“1041. Misbranded and adulterated food.”.