When President Barack Obama originally ran for election in 2007, he unleashed an impassioned plea for GMO labeling that resonated from Maine to California with millions of clean food activists and people who simply wanted to know what’s in their food.
After all, GMOs were foisted upon the American public without long-term safety testing, ignoring its own FDA’s concerns and allowing them to flood the market under the veil of secrecy with no labeling required for one of the biggest changes to our food supply in human history.
Obama knew how important the growing movement for clean food and GMO transparency was becoming, and he scored major political points with his decree that he would label GMOs if elected.
On July 29 of this year, Obama officially signed the first national “GMO labeling bill” into law — and simultaneously managed to disappoint and even enrage most of those same activists and supporters (or former supporters) in the process.
While the mainstream media has taken to calling the bill, hatched in private meetings by senators Debbie Stabenow and Pat Roberts, a “GMO Labeling Bill,” the truth is that the bill has been widely criticized by everyone from organizations like the Organic Consumers Association to the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association to even Obama’s own FDA, which called it confusing to consumers.
In a country where GMOs have taken over 90-plus percent of the corn, soy, cottonseed, and canola crops and large portions of others, that confusion is extremely beneficial to Monsanto and Big Food corporations, which is why they pushed so hard for it in the first place.
Obama Now Being Dubbed “The Monsanto President”
In the wake of the news, GMO Free USA, a popular Facebook page and website for the clean food movement, officially declared Obama “The Monsanto President,” later releasing a graphic reiterating all of the pro-Monsanto appointments Obama made during his tenure.
They are as follows:
To the USDA: Tom Vilsack, Roger Beachy, Romona Romero
To the FDA: Former Monsanto VP Michael Taylor as “Food Czar”
To Secretary of State: Hillary Clinton
Agriculture Trade Rep: Islam Siddiqui
USAID: Rajiv Shah
During Obama’s tenure, several new GMO products were developed and approved including: genetically engineered salmon, a GMO “non-browning” apple, a controversial new gene editing technology called CRISPR (that won’t be regulated, safety tested or labeled), GMO potatoes, and new types of corn, soybeans and cotton with different GMO “traits” added in.
Several more varieties are on the way and could end up in our food supply without long-term, independent safety testing or labels.
And yet despite the rapid advancement of GMOs by scientists, the new product labels don’t do a whole lot to inform American shoppers, already wary of reading labels with a fine-toothed comb, about what they’re actually eating in a simple, clear and practical manner.
What is Monsanto so afraid of, anyway?
“Today President Obama signed into law a GMO labeling bill that discriminates against more than 100 million Americans,” The Center for Food Safety said on July 29 in a press release. “The bill recently passed through Congress and allows companies and producers to use QR codes, 1-800 numbers and other difficult to access technology to label food products that contain GMOs, instead of clear, on-package text…”
Not only are the QR codes and telephone numbers inaccessible, difficult, and/or cumbersome to use for everyday shoppers, they also happen to exclude many foods produced biotechnology, the Center as well as the FDA have warned.
“The FDA said the bill’s narrow and ambiguous definition of “bioengineering,” would “likely mean that many foods from GE sources will not be subject to this bill” and that it “may be difficult” for any GMO food to qualify for labeling under the bill.”
To make matters worse, the bill delays what little actual labeling mandates it includes for 2 full years (learn four other serious red flags about the new “labeling law” here).
And as the Center pointed out, it will completely erase a democratically passed labeling law in Vermont that actually held GMO companies accountable and provided consumers with simple, easy-to-access information.
“The law also sets a dangerous precedent to override the sovereignty of states, as many state labeling laws, including Vermont’s recently enacted GMO labeling law, are now void,” they said in their release. “Consumer, food safety, farm, environmental, and religious groups along with several food corporations representing hundreds of thousands of Americans condemned the bill when it was before Congress (Editor’s note: over 100,000+ later signed a petition for a veto that was ignored by Obama)…”
Where Do We Go From Here?
Now that Obama has signed the deal, which was only made possible thanks to millions in lobbying dollars from Big Ag, the question is where to go from here.
As always, the best thing each individual person can do is to spread awareness about the importance of supporting local organic farmers and small organic and non-GMO food companies that align with their values.
Voting with our dollars is always the most powerful way to vote, which is why more companies and farmers are going organic and non-GMO than ever before.
And while voluntary labeling is far from ideal, it is encouraging that many companies are now starting to label GMOs in their products in a clear, concise way, proving once again that the customer is always right.
Thankfully, that’s a power that a bought-and-paid-for Congress can’t take away from us, even though they finally managed to strong-arm the people out of the common sense GMO labeling bill we all want and deserve, just like the residents of over 60 countries around the world currently enjoy.
Stay positive and keep marching, ladies and gentlemen.