By Alex Lazar in Open Secrets – Thursday’s House passage of a bill that would keep states from requiring genetically modified foods to be labeled was a big — and not at all close — win for agribusiness and food and beverage interests. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, known to its critics as the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, sailed through by a vote of 275 to 150. While the bulk of its support came from the GOP and most of its opponents hailed from Democratic districts, the vote didn’t break cleanly along party lines. Among its 107 sponsors were 92 Republicans and 15 Democrats. But a more telling predictor of where lawmakers came down was the amount of support they’d received from interests with a stake in the legislation.
By Katherine Paul in Organic Consumers – Today, 275 members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of H.R. 1599, the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act. By voting for the DARK Act, these politicians voted against truth and transparency, against science, against the more than century-old right of states to legislate on matters relating to food safety and labeling. They voted against the 90-percent of Americans who are in favor of mandatory labeling of GMOs. They voted against the producers of non-GMO foods. They voted against you. Now that the DARK Act has been approved by the House, we’ll have to stop it in the Senate. We have to move fast—because Monsanto is desperate to pass a bill that preempts mandatory GMO labeling laws at the state and federal levels, before Vermont’s GMO labeling law takes effect next year.
By Amanda Froelich in True Activist – Bees’ importance cannot be overstated. As TrueActivist has shared before, the tiny, bumbling insects are responsible for a lot – making them essential in the future of our planet. Therefore, with massive bee die-offs (otherwise known as ‘colony collapse disorder’), it has been the plight of many scientists, beekeepers, and educated activists to do whatever it takes to ensure bees survive. Some theories exist as to what is causing colony collapse, such as Monsanto’s GMO crops, the insecticides used to treat them, and EMF frequencies from excessive technological use… but debate persists. In wake of all the controversy, the German Beekeepers Association (DIB), which represents almost 100,000 beekeepers, decided to take action by calling for a nationwide ban on GMO cultivation. The news comes from a report published by the German NGO keine-gentechnik.de.
By Pamm Larry of Label GMOs. “The Safe And Affordable Food Act” is also called the “Monsanto Protection Act of All Times” or the “Deny Americans The Right To Know” (DARK) Act. Whatever you want to call it, it’s moved out of the Ag House Committee and will be voted on next week on the House floor. We have to do our best to get as many NO votes as we can. What does DARK do? 1- Takes away States’ right by pre-empting any state GMO labeling laws 2- Allows for GMOs to be labeled as natural 3- Basically prohibits the FDA from doing its testing and labeling job and puts in place a voluntary labeling scheme that folks will have to pay for. NonGMO Project would be outlawed in favor of this USDA program. Will they test?
By Katherine Paul in Organic Consumers – With no debate and only a voice vote, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture today (July 14, 2015) passed out of committee H.R. 1599, a bill to preempt states’ rights to label GMOs. Within hours, it was announced that the bill will go straight to the House floor, as early as next week, with no vote in the Energy and Commerce Committee. If we don’t stop it in the House next week, the fight to stop this “Mother of All Monsanto Protection Acts” will take place next in the U.S. Senate, by early fall. In his opening statement this morning, Committee Chairman Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) (who shortly after today’s vote said he will co-sponsor H.R. 1599) couldn’t have sounded more like a Monsanto employee if he’d tried.
By Mark Spitznagel and Nassim Nicholas Taleb in NY Times – Before the crisis that started in 2007, both of us believed that the financial system was fragile and unsustainable, contrary to the near ubiquitous analyses at the time. Now, there is something vastly riskier facing us, with risks that entail the survival of the global ecosystem — not the financial system. This time, the fight is against the current promotion of genetically modified organisms, or G.M.O.s. Our critics held that the financial system was improved thanks to the unwavering progress of science and technology, which had blessed finance with more sophisticated economic insight. But the “tail risks,” or the effect from rare but monstrously consequential events, we held, had been increasing, owing to increasing complexity and globalization.
By Chelsea Davis in Hawaii News Now – Anti-GMO activists, who celebrated when the moratorium passed in November, are now vowing to keep fighting after a judge invalidated the ban on Tuesday. The ruling means the county law does not supersede state and federal laws that allow genetically engineered crops. “This is really an unprecedented event that just happened and the people of Maui should be outraged over what’s going on,” said Michael Carroll, lawyer for the anti-GMO group The SHAKA Movement. Carroll says big agriculture companies spent millions to beat the 23,000 people who voted for the moratorium. “I think it sends a message to the Maui voters that they’re vote does not mean anything,” Carroll said.
By Organic Consumers Association – Today, at 10 a.m., Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) and their band of pro-GMO, anti-consumer, stomp-all-over-states’-rights outlaws will stand before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and ask the Committee to support H.R. 1599. We’ve been calling H.R. 1599 the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, because that’s what the bill is intended to do—keep you in the dark about the toxic chemical-drenched GMOs in your food. But that’s only half the story. Since Pompeo introduced his bill-to-kill GMO labeling laws earlier this year, he’s been tinkering with the language. Now, the latest version of the DARK Act is even darker than the original.
By Staff of US Right to Know, Documents released today by Syngenta include a letter from Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant to Syngenta, suggesting as a part of a corporate merger that, “We would also propose a new name for the combined company to reflect its unique global nature.” “Monsanto wants to escape its ugly history by ditching its name,” said Gary Ruskin, co-director of U.S. Right to Know, a consumer group. “This shows how desperate Monsanto is to escape criticism: of its products, which raise environmental and health concerns, as well as concerns about corporate control of agriculture and our food system.” In a 2014 Harris Poll gauging the reputations of major corporations, Monsanto’s “reputation quotient” ranked 58 out of 60 companies. In other words, it was the third most hated company measured.
By Steven Rosenfeld in Alternet – On Friday, Mark D. Clarke, a federal magistrate judge, dismissed a legal challenge brought by commercial farmers who use Monsanto’s genetically modified alfalfa seeds. The non-organic farms sought to overturn a 2014 ordinance passed by Jackson County voters that banned the use of such seed stock, claiming that the anti-GMO ordinance violated their right to farm. However Judge Clarke concluded that exactly the opposite was the case. He held that the county’s no-GMO seed ordinance could take effect next week, citing earlier state legislation that protected commercial farms—in this case organic farmers—from harm from other commercial enterprises, such as the commercial farms whose GMO-laced alfalfa pollen gets carried by the wind and can’t be stopped from tainting organic crops.
Demonstrators spent Saturday planting coconut trees and waving signs in rallies across the Hawaiian Islands as part of an international day of protests against agriculture business Monsanto. The protesters complained about the impacts that companies like Monsanto have on the community when they spray fields with chemical pesticides. They say they want agribusiness companies to stop using Hawaii as a testing ground for pesticides and genetically modified foods. “Get off the island,” said Diane Marshall, a Honolulu teacher. “I would like to see them close up shop.” In Waikiki, a man wore a gas mask in front of a statue of surfer Duke Kahanamoku to demonstrate the dangers of pesticides. Others in bikinis talked with tourists about why they don’t want genetically modified goods to be grown in Hawaii.
The biotech industry has a long history of discrediting scientists who challenge the safety of GMOs. That intimidation campaign worked well until consumers connected the dots between GMO foods (and the toxic chemicals used to grow them) and health concerns. Once consumers demanded labels on GMO foods, the biotech industry responded with a multimillion dollar public relations campaign. Yet despite spending millions to influence the media, and millions more to prevent laws requiring labels on products the industry claims are safe, Monsanto has lost the hearts and minds of consumers. The latest polls show that 93 percent of Americans support mandatory labeling of GMO foods. Chipotle has made a sound business decision, which has forced the biotech industry to stoop to a new low: vilifying businesses.
As opponents and advocates of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) continue to battle it out, the debate over the agreement has largely focused on the issue of trade – whether jobs will be lost or gained, what the agreement will do to our trade deficit, and other related matters. It’s worth pointing out that the United States already trades heavily with the other 11 nations included in the TPP talks. As Paul Krugman says, “this is not a trade agreement. It’s about intellectual property and dispute settlement; the big beneficiaries are likely to be pharma companies and firms that want to sue governments.” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has been particularly critical of the so-called Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions, which would empower corporations to use international courts to sue the U.S. government and others who are enacting regulations and protections that harm their profits.
The decision of the Chipotle restaurant chain to make its product lines GMO-free is not most people’s idea of a world-historic event. Especially since Chipotle, by US standards, is not a huge operation. A clear sign that the move is significant, however, is that Chipotle’s decision was met with a tidal-wave of establishment media abuse. Chipotle has been called irresponsible, anti-science, irrational, and much more by the Washington Post, Time Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the LA Times, and many others. A business deciding to give consumers what they want was surely never so contentious. The media lynching of Chipotle has an explanation that is important to the future of GMOs. The cause of it is that there has long been an incipient crack in the solid public front that the food industry has presented on the GMO issue.