Idaho Representatives to Get Educated on GMOs

This is a good time to reflect on the last year and set goals for the New Year. I have considered the best way forward with GMO awareness and my activism and after a couple months of contemplation, especially since the defeat of California’s Prop 37, I have come to some realizations.

You see, at first, I was disheartened by the loss in California. I thought since California could not pass a labeling law, neither could an agricultural state like Idaho. And, truth be told, I was probably right. But, my vision of what is a win and what is a loss was blurred. I was assuming that a loss at the ballot box meant a loss for the cause. I was wrong.

In California, 48% of voters…an estimated 6 million Californians voted to pass GMO labeling this last November. Six million people stood up against GMOs together on the same day. That is amazing! That is a win, because two years ago, those same people may not have known GMOs existed nor had an opinion on the topic. More than that, Prop 37 spawned a national conversation and empowered people across the US to come together and continue the fight for what we know to be right; honest labeling of our food and a choice. Washington has collected 350,000 signatures to get labeling on their ballot this coming November. New Mexico and other states a introducing legislation to mandate labeling. Every time these bills are introduced, more people become aware and our cause grows.

I have met enough of our representatives in Idaho to know that many of them don’t know any more about GMOs than the average person in the grocery store. They simply do not know what we know, just as I did not know three years ago. What most of them do know about biotech, they learn from the lobbyists who fill the capitol or from the big businesses that hold so much power in Idaho politics. They don’t know the consumer concerns because, frankly, we have never told them.

Who do they hear from? They hear from Monsanto, Simplot, Syngenta and Farm Bureau. They hear from these companies directly and they hear from them again through ALEC. If you are not aware of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) you should be.

ALEC is a group of legislators and business leaders who are funded by corporations to write model legislation on issues that benefit the corporations. There are several different task forces that corporations can pay to be a member of. Among them is the Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force. This group has written model legislation that has a direct impact on our cause. Here are models written regarding pesticides, GMOs and the ability for local governments to regulate them via ALEC Exposed.

Prohibiting Local Efforts on GMO Food and Food Safety

Another model bill from ALEC’s member corporations prohibits local, city or county governments from limiting pesticide use, requiring that communities do whatever officials in the state capitol decide to allow in distant towns. Another bill places the same restrictions on local efforts to restrict bio-engineered and GMO crops. If these model bills become law, local governments would be prohibited from responding to their community’s concerns about pesticide use or the dangers of GMO crops. ALEC allegedly supports “federalism,” or state’s rights — a theory premised on the idea that state government can better represent and respond to local interests than a more centralized federal government. But ALEC apparently does not apply this logic to relations between local and state government.

An ALEC model bill that did pass in Idaho last year is the “Right to Farm Act”. The bill says that an ag facility or expansion can’t be declared a nuisance if it follows “generally recognized agricultural practices” or complies with state or federal permits.

READ the “Right to Farm Act.”

I know. It is frustrating and infuriating. It is like fighting a giant octopus that apparently has several very active and well connected tentacles. But, here is my point; the bad guys never lost sight of who they need to be talking to. They never forgot that the capitol is an important place to be and that our representatives are the key to their future.

We don’t have the money to do what these corporations can do. We don’t have the hired lobbyists or the powerful task forces. But that doesn’t mean we cannot write a letter, pick up a phone, or better yet, go sit across a table from the person that represents you and me. And so, that leads me to my goal for the New Year. I will contact, in some form, each one of Idaho’s state legislators and our Senators and Congressmen in the coming months. I hope when I do contact them, I will be only one of many voices who are saying the same thing to them; “WE HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW IF OUR FOOD HAS BEEN GENETICALLY MODIFIED”.

Join us on February 17th and 18th at the Idaho State Capitol building for Citizen’s Lobby Day, hosted by United Vision of Idaho, and a chance to address the GMO issue with our Idaho legislators. Go to our events page for more information and details.

Please email info@gmofreeidaho.com if you plan on attending…we need your support!

We will keep you updated with more calls to action. Keep an eye on our Facebook page and our website for these additional updates.

Have a Happy New Year!

Jenny Easley
GMO Free Idaho Co-Founder

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