Federal Food Fight: Congress Considers Mandatory GMO Labeling

Which is more surprising: that Washington wants to take back the damage done to the food industry by their biggest donors—or that Republicans introduced the measure?

Neither, when you remember that Capitol Hill is Carnegie Hall played out in real-time. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 is the latest song and dance to don the marquee.

The bipartisan bill is still being hammered out in House Committees, but its implications could overwrite FDA, USDA, and state laws. Claiming to cater to America’s appetite for transparency, the bill would mandate all genetically modified food be labeled as such. The FDA would be in charge of the screening process of what is ‘GMO-free,’ the USDA of what is ‘natural’ and leave no room for states to modify the bill.

All daisy chains and pan flutes, right?

Not so much.

Is not it fishy—or perfectly ironic—that this Act knots party lines? Yes, Republicans jumpstarted the National Park Service and EPA. Yet, today, their image just does not jibe with the flip flop-footed, hemp bag toting dread heads you would expect to spearhead this bill.

To quote George Carlin, “The word ‘bipartisan’ usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.”

Sure enough, this fluffy Federal mandate comes with exceptions as cloudy as a glass of milk.

gmoFor example, the bill says, “An agricultural product shall not be considered as not meeting the criteria [for being sold or labeled as an agricultural product produced without the use of bioengineering] solely because the agricultural product—

“(1) is derived from animals that consumed feed or a feed ingredient or received a drug or biological product that—

“(A) was developed with the use of bioengineering” or “(3) is produced with a bioengineered processing aid, enzyme, or microorganism.”

In other words, this bill is the epitome of a dog and pony show sponsored by the same gov. that championed organic labeling in the ’70s and left us with smoke-and-mirror aisles decades later.

Like then, the gov. uses the guise of health, safety, and knowledge in thoughtful titles and charm campaigns to please the public while privately dipping into the pocket of private business, who—as a legal person—underhandedly passes the true cost to you.

Like then, not only can products with 30% synthetic ingredients be labeled ‘organic’ by the gov., but it is illegal for companies selling legitimately organic produce to claim such if they sell less than $5,000 annually. Thus, upwards of 80% of packaged groceries in the US are still inorganic.

Like always, big government carried by the purse strings of big business only makes bigger problems.

From 2013 stock disclosures alone, Congressmen invested millions in PepsiCo, Kraft, Heinz, Dominos, and McDonalds. So why put faith in them now?

Especially when they never put faith in the “free” market—the market they jerry-rigged so surplus petrochemicals from WWI, lobbyist scratch from corn syrup, and pink slime subsidies can have the upper hand, rather than be shoved out by the Invisible Hand.

Our Secretary of State and one of the wealthiest former Congressmen in history, John Kerry, is literally married to the heiress of Heinz ketchup. What, in the breadth of this bill, could be a more apt metaphor for the state of our nation’s health, gullibility and inevitability?

About the Author

Paige Butler
Political blogger and author of three politically tinged fiction books (under the pen name Paige Johnson), Paige Butler is a junior at FIU.