Dark Act Heading to House Floor

woman cover eyes with handsThis week, HR 1599, passed through the House Agriculture Committee, and is heading to the House Floor. It is imperative that we contact our House representatives to ask them to vote no on this bill. According to Organic Consumer Association analysts, if the bill passes it will:

  • Prevent mandatory labeling from becoming law
  • Prevent states who have passed mandatory labeling from implementing the law
  • Prevent counties and states from designating GMO-free zones to prevent crop contamination
  • Put the FDA in charge of writing guidelines for what constitutes as GMO free
  • Continue current policy of voluntary consultation process in lieu of mandatory pre-market safety review

We cannot allow this bill to pass. Our representatives need to hear from us. That is why the board of GMO Free Idaho met with Representative Mike Simpson’s office yesterday. We delivered the following message to him:

Congressman Simpson,

On behalf of the 2035 members of the Organic Consumers Association in your district, as well as more than 3000 Idahoans who follow GMO Free Idaho, we would like to discuss the importance of mandatory labels on foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

There is an urgency to this request, as H.R. 1599 recently passed through the House Agriculture Committee, and will be on its way to the house floor. We understand that you have co-sponsored this bill, and we would request that you revoke your sponsorship and vote no.

The vast majority of people (88%), including those here in Idaho, support mandatory labeling for foods which have been genetically modified, or contain genetically modified ingredients. H.R. 1599 prohibits such mandatory labeling, and reverses the state decisions in Vermont, Maine, and Connecticut to label GMO foods. This bill prevents states and counties from enacting mandatory labeling, or regulating the planting of GMO foods. As a defender of state’s rights, you must oppose this bill.

The American Medical Association has called for genetically engineered foods to be subjected to mandatory pre-market testing. H.R.1599 prevents mandatory pre-market testing by requiring only voluntary consultation. Representative Simpson, for a technology that is ever changing, you must see the danger in requiring only voluntary safety consultation.

H.R. 1599 strips farming communities of their right to protect high value non-GMO agriculture by preventing them from creating GMO-free agricultural zones. These types of recently created zones in Oregon counties have been held up in the courts. Organic and non-GMO farmers cannot protect their crops from contamination without such zones. It is the responsibility of our representation to consider the rights of all farmers, not just those who employ genetically engineered technology. States and counties should be able to regulate their own agricultural needs without one-size-fits-all federal mandates.

While we agree that a federal mandatory consumer labeling program is preferable to individual state labeling, this bill is not the answer. We already have a voluntary labeling system, and that is not what your constituents want. Americans have a right to know what is in their food. Anything short of mandatory GMO labeling is insufficient. If the federal government fails to provide such mandatory labeling, you have an obligation to protect state’s rights to do so.

I have included some additional reading material on genetically modified organisms. It is my hope that you consider it, and vote no on H.R. 1599. Uphold state’s rights, and the right of individuals to know what they are purchasing.

Sincerely,

GMO Free Idaho