AND Magazine Menu

Vermont Labeling Laws

Claude Morton
Column Editor

They claim they have a right to not specify if GMO ingredients are used in their products...



Under Challenge From Powerful Food Lobbies

Genetically modified foods

Genetically modified foods (or GM foods) are foods produced from organisms that have had specific changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering. These techniques have allowed for the introduction of new crop traits as well as a far greater control over a food's genetic structure than previously afforded. | Photo: The Labratory | Link | Genetically Modified Foods, Gmo, Food, Dna, Nutrition, Controversy,

Under Challenge From Powerful Food Lobbies

Claude Morton
Column Editor

166.4K

Views/Shares

[Comments] After the state of Vermont revealed a new GMO labeling law, which goes into effect in 2016, GM manufacturers along with a few powerful processed food lobbies, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the Snack Food Associations (SFA), and the Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) have moved ahead to file a lawsuit against members of the Vermont government, in order to prevent such labeling laws from ever becoming a reality.

The GMA/SFA/IDFA are essentially suing members of the Vermont government, including the Attorney General, the Governor, the Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health, and the Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Finance and Management for depriving the constitutional rights to businesses that use GMO ingredients in their products.

Specifically, they claim they have a right to not specify if GMO ingredients are used in their products, along with the right to use misleading advertising on their products (e.g. All Natural). The idea that transnational corporations have a constitutional right to hide what they are putting into the products America citizens are eating and drinking is absurd.

I didn't know transnational corporations had a constitutional right to deny me the right to live the best life possible for myself. I'm a vegan, GMO ingredients are not vegan ingredients, I have a right to know what I am consuming, so I can live the best life possible for myself as a vegan.

It is also a real safety concern for human health, as GMOs may have had proteins implanted from a food someone is allergic to, into a food they believe they are not allergic to.

Labeling laws are a call for transparency, so consumers can consume products that benefit them and their community and environment, as opposed to being tricked into purchasing products that use growing practices we know are harmful to human health and biodiversity.

Below are some claims made in the lawsuit against the state of Vermont.

'"The world is facing an imminent food shortage. The United Nations' Food an Agricultural Organization predicts that by the year 2050, there will be 9.1 billion people on the planet."
This is the favorite line from the biotech food industry, and one that is completely irrelevant to our discussion about our domestic agricultural needs. No one is saying other areas in the world cannot grow GM crops, and not label them, we live in America, not the world, and the labeling program is for the state of Vermont, who is not experiencing a population swell, or a depletion of their natural resources involved in the agricultural process.

We have a choice here in America, to farm using natural and sustainable methods that don't involve toxins and chemicals harmful to human health and our environment. We aren't facing a dire environmental situation in America in which organic crops cannot be grown.

'"farmers must find ways to do more with less. One of those ways is to raise plant varieties that have been genetically modified through biotechnology to be more productive and more easily adaptable to changing conditions."
GM crops do not always produce higher yields, but they do reduce the cost risks associated with farming, especially during drought or unforeseen problems (pest infestations, weed infestations), along with reducing the costs of the insurance premiums to cover those crops.

However, the USDA found that the cost of corn and soybean seeds (two of the most pervasive GM crops in America), 'grew by about 50 percent in real terms (adjusted for inflation) between 2001 and 2010. The price of GE cotton seed (the third largest GM crop) grew even faster.'

But these comparisons of cost risks and profitability are based against conventionally grown foods, something I do not advocate for; but when compared to organics, the profitability reveals a different story. The price of GM crops fluctuates heavily due to outside market forces (speculators) manipulating the supply for financial reasons, especially when compared to the cost of organics, which remains pretty steady and elevated, making the profitability of organics in-line or exceeding that of GM grown crops, depending on the crop.

But, how do we calculate the costs of destroying vital biodiversity or using harmful chemicals and toxins involved in the GM agricultural process? What are the costs of the negative impacts made on the local environment and human health as a result of toxic GM agricultural growing practices? Those costs never seem to be included in these comparisons.

'"FDA's long-standing position is that it is inappropriate to mandate labeling for such foods as a class because genetically engineering the plant does not entail a material difference in the food it produces."
So, if there is no material difference in the food produced from GM crops, why do pro-GMO advocates point to the fact that GM products such as golden rice have a materially different nutrient make-up than organic rice? If there is no material difference, why doesn't organic seed contain the same pest and weed resistance as GM seed?

The material difference the FDA is referring to is in appearance, smell, feel, or taste of the food, which is the same in GM crops; but that does not mean there isn't a stark material difference in the DNA make-up of GM foods compared to organic foods.

This is just one of the many sophistic arguments posed in this lawsuit.

'"The Act is premised on a legislative finding that some consumers want to avoid food derived from genetic engineering because they distrust the FDA's findings or otherwise object to the use or prevalence of biotechnology in agriculture."
So, people want to know what they are eating, that is the main motivation behind these types of labeling movements. A recent study conducted by Consumer Reports National Research found 92% of Americans want their food labeled for GM ingredients, what is so hard to understand?

American consumers want to know what they are eating, not because they have unfounded fears, but as discussed above, a person has a right to know what they are ingesting, especially if they have allergies to certain foods, foods which may have had DNA spliced into other foods, which may pose an allergenic risk to those consumers; or vegans like myself, who have a right to not consume non-vegan foods.

And finally, many people don't want to support GM products, something impossible to do without labels, and for a myriad of reasons from cross-contamination issues, supporting a transnational monopoly over our food supply, to the negative environmental and health impacts glyphosate heavy agricultural practices associated with GM crops pose to our human health, local biodiversity, and our environment.

"The State is compelling manufacturers to convey a message they do not want to convey, and prohibiting manufacturers from describing their products in terms of their choosing, without anything close to a sufficient justification."
Well, that reads like the cigarette industry's excuse to not want to label the hazards of their products on cigarette boxes. It also suggests transnational corporations can usurp the democratic sentiment of American citizens, even if it means feeding them something that may harm them or harm their chosen way of life.

The USDA states, 'Crops (GM) have traits that allow them to tolerate more effective herbicides, such as glyphosate.' We know glyphosate, which is used by the ton on the over 163 million acres of GM crops here in America, is a dangerous toxin. By association, GM crops are a dangerous product.

GM manufacturers have known the dangers of glyphosates for over two decades, but keep reinforcing lies, and false advertisements of its safety as proved by this link from a court case back in 1996.

Here is a scientific review of the human health issues associated with glyphosates, along with the numerous studies sourced to create the review from. The review concluded, 'Glyphosate is likely to be pervasive in our food supply, and, contrary to being essentially nontoxic, it may in fact be the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment."

"It (genetic engineering) has also been credited with dramatic reductions in the use of highly toxic pesticides."
GM crops use highly toxic herbicides by the ton, not sure how that is a benefit? Here is a link showing just that.

Making the sophistic claim that GM agricultural processes are not using highly toxic pesticides is only a diversion from the fact they are using highly toxic herbicides, which are believed to be more harmful than toxic pesticides.

"After soliciting public comment and conducting hearings in 1992, FDA issued a policy statement announcing it had found no evidence that 'food developed by [genetic engineering] present any different or greater safety concern than foods developed by traditional plant breeding.'"
We know in 1992 the FDA was severely deregulated, and fostered an environment for big business under the Bush I regime, the Vice President at the time, Dan Quayle, pretty much summed it up like this, 'The reforms we announce today will speed up and simplify the process of bringing better agriculture products, developed through biotech, to consumers, food processors and farmers...We will ensure that biotech products will receive the same oversight as other products, instead of being hampered by unnecessary regulation.'

The kind of 'unnecessary regulation' to ensure those products were safe, and safe for the environment. Instead the Bush regime relied upon biotech manufactures to self-regulate, we know how that turned out in the financial industry, and beginning to see how that is working out in the biotech industry.

A biotech industry that has used this unregulated operating environment to control the science published on GM crops and the agricultural practices associated with them.

But, what is even more disturbing is that the FDA doesn't regulate GMOs, the FDA relies upon the manufacturers of GM crops to conduct the safety testing as stated on their website, "Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety."

The entire process is severely compromised, especially since biotech companies such as Monsanto claim the FDA is responsible for the safety of GMOs as stated by a Monsanto Director of Corporate Communication, "Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA?s job."

So who's ensuring the safety of GMOs?


"Opponents of genetic engineering have occasionally published studies with the intent of implying health risks associated with widely grown GE crops. Regulator and other scientific experts have examined these studies and concluded they are either unreliable, irrelevant, or both."

It is kind of silly to think every study that disagrees with the "consensus" that GMOs are safe is either invalid, irrelevant or both, how absurd.

But, we have already exposed that regulators are not regulating biotech firms, biotech firms are regulating biotech firms, creating enormous conflicts of interests and an environment of moral hazard.

GMOs in their totality are not safe, not when you account for the massive amounts of toxic herbicides involved in their cultivation, toxic herbicides we know are harmful to human health.

The lawsuit also claims that unless consumers consume an all organic diet, they are all already consuming GM ingredients, which implies that regardless of the consumers' desires, the biotech industry has already decided for them - labeling laws will put that decision back into the consumer's hands.


Claude Morton

Claude Morton, Column Editor: Claude Morton is an independent contributor, who mostly writes articles on politics, Veganism, philosophy, or local events. Claude has contributed to a variety of print and online outlets including Yahoo!, MovieMaker Magazine, and the Ann Arbor News. From Claude; I’m in the 1%, no, not that 1%. I’m a vegan, indie filmmaker, libertarian socialist, and a pacifist. I champion freedom as much as equality, and love discussing solutions about our country’s biggest dilemmas. ... (more...)