Monsanto, the world’s largest producer of genetically modified seeds and herbicides, is campaigning for a federal law to block state and local GMO labelling laws. Here are a few recent stories on the campaign and its response.
Food fight! Congress, consumers battle over GMOs
A fierce food fight has erupted in Congress over the labeling of genetically engineered foods, reports the San Luis Obispo Tribune. At the center of the conflict is a bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas that would block state and local laws from requiring food labels to disclose genetically engineered ingredients. So far, three states – Vermont, Connecticut and Maine – have passed mandatory labeling laws for genetically modified food. At least fifteen other states are considering similar regulations. Pompeo’s “ Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act” would nix those laws and instead set up a voluntary nationwide labeling system overseen by the federal government.
Did Monsanto Organize a Fake Grassroots Campaign in Favor of GMOs?
That’s what Michelle Cook Schoffro asks on Care2, a website of the “world’s largest community for good.” “The company that brought you genetically-modified foods, the carcinogenic pesticide Roundup, and what many would describe as global mayhem,” she writes, “may be stooping to a new low, according to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). According to the non-profit advocacy group that works to protect the food supply, Monsanto is now using a fake grassroots campaign in an effort to raise political support for their products. Called “astroturfing”, the approach involves manufacturing an artificial grassroots campaign of citizens or coalitions that is actually a corporately-created and/or funded campaign and a front for corporate interests. Monsanto representatives are apparently calling moms who are in favor of labeling genetically-modified foods, pretending to agree with them, couriering them documents that include letters addressed to members of Congress and containing their personal stories and asking the Congress members to support H.R. 1599—a bill that is known by environmentalists as the DARK Act because it “Denies Americans the Right to Know” what’s in their food.”
“Initiated by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the bill blocks the ability of state and local governments from requiring genetically-modified foods to be labelled. Instead companies would simply notify the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to inform them that the companies’ food products that contain genetically-modified organisms are “substantially equivalent” to non-genetically modified foods.”
Steve Elmendorf: Monsanto’s New Man on the Hill
A Huff Post profile of Monsanto’s lobbyist in Congress, whose other clients include oil companies, big banks, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and the leading junk food industry trade group,. In the past, writes Gail Sullivan, U.S. Right to Know, Communications Director, “Monsanto has a served as a revolving door for top posts at the Food and Drug Administration, the agency charged with protecting the public from harmful pesticides and ensuring the safety of our food system.” In Elmendorf they have found a powerful advocate to push their agenda on the Hill too.