March 10, 2013
Two pieces of legislation recently introduced in both the Minnesota House and Senate could soon make the Land of 10,000 Lakes the first in the nation to require the labeling of all foods that contain genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). If passed, H.F. 850 and S.F. 821 would require that all food products containing GM ingredients bear the words “Produced with Genetic Engineering,” a simple and straightforward phrase that would help Minnesotans make better and more informed food purchasing decisions.
Following the seemingly fraudulent defeat of Proposition 37 in California last fall, more than 20 states, including Minnesota, have since introduced their own versions of GMO labeling legislation. On February 21, Representative Karen Clark of Minneapolis introduced H.F. 850, and a week later, Senator John Marty of Roseville introduced S.F. 821. The House bill specifically addresses the mandatory labeling aspect of the intended new law, while the Senate bill specifically prohibits the undisclosed sale of GM seeds and food.
“It’s such a basic right, the right to know what’s in the food you’re eating,” explains Rep. Clark, whose bill intendedly complements S.F. 821. “This legislation is really a very moderate step. It doesn’t ban genetically modified ingredients. It just lets consumers know about them so they can make their own choices.”
Not surprisingly, in a state heavily controlled by corporate agriculture interests, efforts are already afoot to block the legislation from passing. The Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU), for instance, which represents many a cohort of Minnesota farmers that grow GMOs, has already indicated its opposition to GMO labeling efforts, at least at the state level. The group says it does; however, support GMO labeling at the national level, according to the Star Tribune.
“Consumers want to know what’s in the food they buy, and some people want to know if it’s got [GE ingredients,” said Doug Peterson, head of MFU, to the Star Tribune in apparent support of national GMO labeling requirements.
Major opponents of GMO labeling: General Mills, Cargill, Hormel, and Land O’Lakes all based in Minnesota
But as we all know, special interests have almost complete control over Congress these days, which means the likelihood of passing GMO labeling laws at the national level is considerably diminished. Like with the decriminalization of marijuana in both Washington and Colorado, the best hope Minnesotans have of promoting real change is to do so at the local and state level.
But even this will not be easy. Many of the corporations responsible for killing Prop. 37 in California, it turns out, just so happen to based in Minnesota. Cereal giant General Mills, for instance, which spent $1.23 million to defeat GMO labeling in California is based in Golden Valley, a Minneapolis suburb. And Minnetonka-based Cargill donated more than $200,000 to the “No on 37” campaign, which deceptively misled California voters into believing that GMO labeling would be “confusing” and “raise food costs.”
In other words, despite Minnesota’s strong constituency of health-conscious individuals, many of whom are leading the charge at the grassroots level to mandate GMO labeling in the North Star State, major food processors that use GMOs in their products are already mounting campaigns to kill these efforts. And the biotechnology and pesticide industries, regardless of the particular states in which they are based, will undoubtedly fund opposition to GMO labeling in Minnesota just like they did in California.
Polls show nearly all Americans support mandatory GMO labeling
Even so, polls continue to show that nearly every single American supports GMO labeling. Human beings have a fundamental right to know what they put inside their bodies, and if GMOs are really safe as Big Ag and the federal government insist, then it should be no problem informing consumers about their presence throughout the food supply.
“Public support for the disclosure of genetically engineered ingredients is nearly unanimous,” says Nancy Brown of Right to Know Minnesota, the citizen-led group leading the charge to require GMO labeling in Minnesota. “People are shocked to find out that they’re eating these foods every day without their knowledge or consent. This measure simply gives Minnesotans the information they want and need to make informed choices at the grocery store.”
To learn more, visit Right to Know Minnesota: http://www.righttoknowmn.org/
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This article was posted: Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 10:06 am