GMO Free PA

Call to Action: 

Contact your U.S. Congressional Representative to oppose HR1599, called the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015.  We call it, “the DARK Act: Denying Americans’ Right to Know.”

Ask them to not allow the bill to leave their committee, or to come up for a vote.

You may email or call 1-877-796-1949 toll-free to be connected to your Representative. Scroll down to TAKE ACTION for more tips and links.

HR 1599 was introduced in April 2015. If it become law, this act, called the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 by its supporters, will forbid states from making laws that require labeling genetically engineered (GMO) food. It will also allow foods with genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled as “natural.”

Below are 6 claims of the act. These claims are verbatim from the press release that accompanied the bill’s introduction. The final claim (that genetic engineering is needed to feed the world) is answered extensively with links to several sources.

CLAIM 1: America’s farmers will continue to be able to innovate and improve the quality and quantity of their crops and provide nutritious, affordable food on families’ tables both here and across the world.

REALITY 1: This is code for “continue the transformation of the U.S. food production system to the increasingly highly profitable corporate-controlled system, based upon genetically engineering and its accompanying pesticides.” GMO seeds are engineered to resist the effects of massive doses of herbicides or engineered to produce their own insecticide. GMO food has not addressed quality, nutrition, or quantity of crops.  Independent studies (not conducted by the corporations which produce and sell the GMO seeds), and STUDIES FUNDED BY THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (USDA), find that “organic farming systems can be equally productive and economically competitive [with conventional systems]…and…more resilient…Many studies have shown that organic systems perform better than conventional ones under drought conditions.” [source: USDA publication, “Transitioning to Organic Production,” 01/07, http://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Bulletins/Transitioning-to-Organic-Production]

The idea behind GMOs is that farmers can spray herbicide (weed killer) on the whole field, with every plant dying except the genetically engineered crop. (Yes, GMOs are fundamentally only about killing weeds.) The crop’s seeds were engineered to resist the killing effects of the herbicide. However, the crop still absorbs the herbicide. Glyphosate, the active ingredient of the most common herbicide (Monsanto’s Roundup), chelates (bonds with) soil minerals. This means that Roundup prevents plants from absorbing nutrients from soil, thereby making food less nutritious. In addition, very recently, on March 20, the World Health Organization declared glyphosate a “probable human carcinogen.” Research has found that glyphosate has a p-coefficient of 98.5% with the incidence of autism. Similar rates of correlation have been found with celiac disease (gluten intolerance), and cancers of the digestive organs: liver, kidneys, bile duct.

Studies should have been concluded before glyphosate was used on 80% of all commodity crops (soy, corn, canola, cotton, sugar beets, others), which are the basis of every processed food in the American supermarket, and which are fed directly to livestock.

 

CLAIM 2: A patchwork of state GMO labeling laws could mislead consumers and increase food prices for families.

REALITY 2: The “patchwork” refers to the state-by-state effort to pass GMO labeling legislation. This could easily be resolved by passing a national GMO labeling requirement, rather than outlawing it, as HR1599 proposes. Food manufacturers routinely change their food labels. All state-level GMO labeling bills require a simple phrase, “made with genetic engineering,” to be added to labels, which would not require a full scale expensive redesign effort. In addition, a very reasonable time allotment for compliance is included in every state-level GMO labeling bill and could also be included in a national bill. This would add extremely minimal costs for manufacturers, eliminating any need to increase prices to consumers. Somehow, manufacturers have been able to print food labels that comply with the 64 countries around the world that already require GMO labeling. A U.S. national labeling requirement would actually make it easier and less expensive for manufacturers, by allowing them to use one label for all global markets.

 

CLAIM 3: Ensuring that all Americans’ desire to know what’s in their food is respected.

REALITY 3: Every major national poll in recent years has found that at least 90% of Americans desire to know whether their food is genetically engineered.  Nearly 1.4 million Americans have joined a petition urging FDA to require labeling of genetically engineered food. In just 2013 and 2014, more than 70 bills or ballot initiatives for GMO labeling were proposed across 30 states. Respecting Americans’ desires would be demonstrated by passing a national law that requires labeling genetically engineered ingredients; not forbidding it.

 

CLAIM 4: Allow those who wish to label their products as GMO-free to do so through a USDA-accredited certification process.

REALITY 4: Companies have been allowed to make voluntary genetically engineered disclosures for more than a decade, and not even one, single company has chosen to reveal whether their products contain genetically engineered ingredients. Voluntary compliance has been given more than enough time to prove itself as a viable option for ingredient transparency — and it has failed.

 

CLAIM 5: GMO labeling laws could mislead consumers. This bill will end their guessing.

REALITY 5: Presently, consumers are confused about what foods are genetically engineered. GMO labeling laws are written simply to inform consumers about the presence of genetically engineered ingredients in their food. There are no warnings or other dire messages.  Meanwhile, consumers are confused by unsubstantiated claims of “natural” ingredients. The current USDA discussion about defining “natural” is under heavy pressure from agro-corporations to include genetically engineered products as “natural,” even though their genetic configurations could never exist within nature. HR1599 would also prevent states from defining “natural.”

 

CLAIM 6: We need these technological advances in order to feed the world.

REALITY 6: The rest of the world completely disagrees. Years of extensive research by the World Bank’s Institute, the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, the United Nations’ Trade and Development Conference, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, and the World Health Organization all conclude that America’s food production system is unsustainable and is a hindrance to feeding the world. They agree that the only way to feed the growing world’s population into the future is full scale “paradigm shift” in agriculture, away from “industrial input-intensive” methods, to “climate smart agriculture” based upon “agroecology” that uses decentralized organic production systems.

Multi-year studies, including studies funded by the US Department of Agriculture and reported in USDA publications, consistently find that conventional agriculture and organic production systems yield equally, except in years of stress (drought, flood, heat, cold, blight, etc.), when organic agriculture is significantly more resilient and productive – with lower input costs and environmental impact. An added bonus to growing food in living soil is that so much carbon is sequestered in the soil, that global climate change can be slowed or even reversed.

  1. World Bank Institute report on food security, June 2011 (There are many original study references at end of their report.):

About relationship between food access and climate change; advocates for shift from “feeding” to “nourishing” and to sustainable/organic food production systems.

http://wbi.worldbank.org/wbi/Data/wbi/wbicms/files/drupal-acquia/wbi/WBI%20Global%20Dialogue%20on%20Food%20Security%20and%20Adaptation%20-%20Summary%20of%20emerging%20issues.pdf

EXCERPT: “We need agricultural systems that are more resilient to climate shocks, trigger a rebound in genetic diversity, conserve ecosystems, create jobs, rebuild soil fertility, and deliver a range of other benefits. This requires “climate smart agriculture” that lowers agricultural emissions, is more resilient to climate change and boosts agricultural yields, underpinned by “triple win” technologies. Global adoption of sustainable agriculture methods could sequester from 40% – 65% of greenhouse gases emitted in the agricultural sector.”

This is the opposite of our present farming system.

  1. United Nations reports                                                                                                              a. This report calls upon States to shift towards “agro-ecology as a way for countries to feed themselves while addressing climate and poverty challenges.”

http://www.srfood.org/en/report-agroecology-and-the-right-to-food

b. Here’s a press release report (March 2011), from the UN Human Rights Council, saying that sustainable/organic food production methods could double food production in 10 years:

http://www.srfood.org/images/stories/pdf/press_releases/20110308_agroecology-report-pr_en.pdf

c. UN Trade and Development report called “Wake Up Before it is Too Late: Make Agriculture Truly Sustainable Now for Food Security in a Changing Climate.”

http://unctad.org/en/pages/PublicationWebflyer.aspx?publicationid=666

d. A scientist discusses several UN department reports. Includes many diagrams and over 50 references.

http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Paradigm_Shift_Urgently_Needed_in_Agriculture.php

e. A senior UN official announced in December 2014 that there is only 60 years left of farming if soil degradation continues.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/only-60-years-of-farming-left-if-soil-degradation-continues/

f. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer analyzed five commonly used weed killers and insecticides and found that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is “a probably human carcinogen.” Roundup is the world’s most-used herbicide. It is what most genetically engineered crops are dowsed with several times each growing season (but, while they are engineered to resist its killing effects, they still absorb it systemically into every plant cell). In addition, it is widely used as a desiccant, drying non-GMO crops before harvest (wheat, oats, barley, etc), and the agent used to dry foods such as herbs, teas, dried fruit, etc.

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(15)70134-8/abstract

g. In addition, Roundup, dicamba, and 2,4-D (other widely-used herbicides) have been tied to antibiotic resistance in humans. In April 2014, the World Health Organization reported that antibiotic resistance a serious global threat, and called upon the food supply industry to cease preventative use of antibiotics.

  1. United States Department of Agriculture Studies

http://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Bulletins/Transitioning-to-Organic-Production

 

  1. Rodale Institute’s Farming Systems Trial 30-Year Report

The unprecedented 30-year study conducted by the Rodale Institute’s independent side-by-side Farming Systems Trial, compared organic and “conventional” chemical agriculture. GMO agriculture was added in later years. Here is the link to some of the hundreds of peer-reviewed studies published as part of the first 30 years of the Farming Systems Trial.

http://rodaleinstitute.org/our-work/farming-systems-trial/farming-systems-trial-publications/

Here’s their “Fast Facts” summary:

Organic yields match conventional yields.

Organic outperforms conventional in years of drought.

Organic farming systems build rather than deplete soil organic matter, making it a more sustainable system.

Organic farming uses 45% less energy and is more efficient.

Conventional systems produce 40% more greenhouse gases.

Organic farming systems are more profitable than conventional.

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TAKE ACTION:

As of mid-April, no Pennsylvania representatives have co- sponsored HR 1599.

However, 3 representatives are on the Energy and Commerce Committee:

Joseph R Pitts (R) Chair of the Subcommittee on Health

Room  420 CHOB, 202-225-2411, http://pitts.house.gov/our-district

Tim Murphy (R), Member of the Sub Committee Health,
Room 233 RHOB, 202-225-2301, http://murphy.house.gov

Mike Doyle (R) Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee
Room 239 CHOB, 202-225-2135, http://doyle.house.gov

 

As a citizen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, please call the representatives listed above and let them know your concerns with HR 1599, The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015. Ask them to be sure that it doesn’t come up for a vote or go out of their committee.

You may email or call 1-877-796-1949 to be automatically connected to your Representative.

We have a right to know what is in our food and we want TRANSPARENCY of our food system.

 If you prefer letter writing, please go to this page to send an email letter to your representative.

Link to the Bill:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1599/all-info

 

GMO Free PA

Please become a member and join us in sending a message to our elected officials in the Commonwealth of PA to pass An Act to Label Genetically Engineered Food.   Our campaign has already been endorsed by the following national organizations: Food Democracy Now, The Organic Consumers Association,  The Institute for Responsible Technology and Citizens For GMO Labeling.