Maytinee Kramer / Contributing Writer
We all have a right to know what goes into our food and how it’s been produced, and though there is no solid proof saying Genetically Modified Organisms have any harmful effects on human health, there isn’t solid proof that GMOs are better for us than untreated foods, either.
The House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday , July 23, that bans state laws which force food producers to label products that contain GMOs. This gives the federal government more power to dictate which foods are worthy of labeling. The vote was 275 to 150. This is clearly a victory for food and chemical industries that lobbied for the ban, but it’s a blow to consumer choice and a seizure of states’ rights. Before the bill can be become law though, it will be need to be approved by the Senate and signed by President Obama. So far, the White House has not taken a stance.
Those in favor of the bill say that GMO labels will only cause an increase in food prices and confusion about the safety of genetically engineered food. Gregory Jaffee, Biotechnology Project Director with the Center for Science in the Public Interest, stated at a recent House committee hearing, that there were no known nutritional or safety issues linked to GE food, so labels would be unnecessary.
So far, three states – Vermont, Connecticut and Maine – have passed mandatory GMO labeling laws, however, in Maine and Connecticut, they will not go into effect unless their surrounding neighbor states also pass similar laws. Vermont’s law, who has survived legal challenges so far, is set to take effect in 2016. The labeling requirement will be voided though, if the Senate passes the bill.
Currently, companies can choose to voluntarily label their products “GE Free” or “GMO Free” and can also seek third-party verification. If the bill becomes law, those wanting to label their food “GMO Free” will have to apply and be certified for that status by the Department of Agriculture.
The issue is not whether GMOs are safe or healthy, but how the bill denies Americans the right to know what is in their food and how it’s grow. Moreover, it allows more power to a corrupt government and its corporate partners.
As Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs for EWG said, “This House was bought and paid for by corporate interests, so it’s no surprise that it passed a bill to block states and the FDA from giving consumers basic information about their food.”
More than 300 organizations, companies, and leaders in the food industry and of social justice oppose the bill, saying that labeling laws allow consumers the right to know if their food is genetically engineered. It was found that nine out of 10 Americans support GMO labeling, and with the recent passing of this bill, it seems unthinkable that some House lawmakers are willing to ignore the wishes of the people.
Proposing a solution to this issue, we should look more to our communities and ourselves. It’s not old news that we should strive to support and start more farmers markets and community gardens and farms. Rather than depending on the government, we should use our power as consumers to only support business and institutions who have morals and principles similar to our own. It’s up to us, individually and collectively, to stay healthy. True power always lies in the hands of the people.