The fight over GMO food labeling is really coming to head this year and we’re teed up for an epic showdown in Congress this fall. This panel will discuss all the political moving parts that are working together in our nation’s capital and in other states to require national mandatory labeling of GMOs and what forces are attempting to blockade the efforts.
The food movement has made tremendous strides at the state level recently, passing GMO labeling bills in Vermont, Connecticut and Maine, passing bans on the planting of GMOs in counties in Oregon, Hawaii and California, and only narrowly losing ballot initiatives in states like Oregon despite tens of millions of dollars in opposition. But what happens next will really decide it all.
Two competing bills in Congress dealing with GMO labeling and other secret trade deals are coming to a head this year. On one hand, we have the “Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act,” which would create mandatory GMO food labeling across the country, giving consumers the information they want and deserve. But there is also an industry-backed bill we’ve taken to calling the “Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act.” This bill would prevent the Food and Drug Administration AND individual states from mandating labels on GMO foods and even prohibit counties or states from banning or regulating the crops. Unfortunately, this terrible bill recently passed in the House of Representatives because of the massive sway industry has on our elected officials. The next fight will be in the Senate, where there is more hope that our elected leaders will stand up for consumers’ right to know. You can visit Center for Food Safety to learn more about the Senate fight and how to get involved.
Another wrinkle in the labeling fight has to do with what’s happening between the U.S. and our trading partners. Multi-state trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) threaten to undermine GMO labeling on a global scale. Though negotiations have largely been kept secret, leaked documents have revealed that the U.S. (at the behest of Big Food and major agribusiness corporations) is pressuring countries in Europe and Asia to “harmonize” their policies so they look more like the U.S. That means the U.S. is pressuring these countries to drop GMO labeling and allow more GMO crops to be grown and/or sold there. This lowers the bar for the entire world and if these countries cave to U.S. demand, it will make it harder than ever to get GMO labeling here at home. What’s worse, these trade deals would also allow multinational corporations to sue the U.S. in international court if that company felt at an environmental or consumer protection law was an unfair burden or barrier to the company.
Learn all the details about our highly political fight to label GMOs by joining this panel and learning from our experts from the Center for Food Safety & Food Democracy Now!
Colin O’Neil: Colin O’Neil is the director of government affairs for Center for Food Safety. Since joining in 2008, he has contributed to the expansion of the Center’s policy campaigns, organizing and overseeing daily operations of the Center’s congressional and federal policy work. He regularly meets with Members of Congress and their staff related to the Center’s core policy agenda, including pollinator protection, the labeling and oversight of genetically engineered foods and crops, food safety standards, pesticide use, climate change, trade, and general food and farm policy. Colin acts as a spokesperson for a range of issues and actions by the Center, and has been interviewed and quoted by a variety of print and broadcast media outlets, including Politico, Dow Jones, Huffington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle and Fox News.
Dave Murphy: Dave Murphy is the founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!, a grassroots movement of more than 650,000 American farmers and citizens dedicated to reforming policies relating to food, agriculture and the environment. Murphy has been called “the most crucial and politically savvy actor in the on-going efforts to help move American agriculture into the 21st century” as a result of his “Sustainable Dozen” campaign, which resulted in four candidates being placed in high level positions at the USDA and his efforts to reform food and agriculture under the Obama administration. In 2006, Murphy moved back to Iowa to help stop a factory farm from being built near his sister’s farm. After seeing the loss of basic democratic rights of rural Iowans, Murphy decided to stay in Iowa to fight for Iowa’s farmers and rural residents and expose the flaws of industrial agriculture to help create a more sustainable future for all Americans. In 2007, Murphy organized the Food and Family Farm Presidential Summit, where 5 of the 6 Democratic candidates pledged their support to help save family farm agriculture and he filmed then Senator Barack Obama’s now famous promise to Iowa farmers to label genetically engineered foods.Previously, he has worked as an environmental and food policy lobbyist and political strategist. His writing has appeared in the Nation, the Hill, Huffington Post and the New York Times. Dave is known as the “big dude from Iowa” by friend and foe alike and is a board member of the Iowa Organic Association.
Lisa Stokke: Lisa is co-founder and associate director of Food Democracy Now!. For nearly a decade, Lisa has focused on creating a local food system in Northern Iowa, working to connect consumers with farmers who raise and grow food sustainably. During the past several years Lisa has organized dozens of events, including the Clear Lake Annual Earth Day Organic Lunch and also events surrounding the Iowa Farmer’s Union 2007 Presidential Summit in Des Moines, Iowa working to showcase local and organic food, farmers and opportunities for her native home in Iowa. In 2010, Lisa was honored to be named a “Woman Making a Difference”, by Shape Magazine. As the mother of four children, Lisa knows the importance of a nutritious meal and ensures that her children eat a healthy, organic diet. She is particularly concerned about achieving school lunch reform through Food Democracy Now! and also within the local community school system and believes that the key to creating health and sustainability lies within teaching our children to be stewards of the water, land and soil. Lisa is hopeful that this administration will ensure the implementation of policy changes so that her children have a sustainable future to look forward to.