Could it be because they are worried about real labeling laws at the state level? Urgent Action Alert!
In November, we told you about the House and Senate conference committee to reconcile two wildly different Farm Bills and fill a $36 billion gap between them. We’ve received word that the committee is likely to complete its work by the end of the month, immediately after which the final bill would be released.
The House version of the Farm Bill still includes the destructive and possibly unconstitutional King Amendment (a.k.a. the Interstate Commerce Amendment), which could undo state-level GMO labeling and animal rights laws—even those that have already been passed. On a more positive note, it also includes Section 11321, which protects small farmers from burdensome FDA regulations. The Senate version of the bill has neither of these provisions. We need for the final, reconciled bill to have Section 11321, but not the King Amendment.
Even worse, the House bill contains Section 1613, which would prevent any agency from disclosing any “information provided by a producer or owner of agricultural land concerning the agricultural operation.” Forget the absurdly broad language—this would make it illegal to report, for example, where GMO crops are planted, or where cross-contamination has occurred. The public would be kept in the dark about any number of vital issues. What about livestock disease outbreak? Antibiotic abuse in farm animals? The possibilities are endless. Big Ag wants blanket immunity, and this amendment is a big fat gift to them—possibly at the expense of your health and safety.
Once the Farm Bill is released, it’s “game over”—this is our last chance to make our voices heard. When the Farm Bill leaves the conference committee, it will go straight to both chambers for an “up or down” vote. Since no amendments can be added to a conference bill and leaders of both parties will push their caucuses to vote “yea,” it’s certain the conference bill will be passed as is.
Thanks to your activism—the thousands of messages you sent your legislators, and the way you spread the word to friends and fellow activists—the movement to strike the King Amendment has gained considerable momentum. Thank you. In addition, for the past two months, ANH-USA has been active behind the scenes on Capitol Hill (working as part of a coalition led by the Humane Society to strike the King Amendment). We want to make sure the Farm Bill that finally gets passed will be a positive for the natural health community.
It’s vital that we defeat the King Amendment—it’s just the beginning of a deceptive new strategy by Monsanto and Big Food to defeat GMO labeling by appearing to champion national GMO legislation.
It would sound bizarre elsewhere, but it’s par for the course on Capitol Hill. The Grocery Manufacturers Association (yes, the same group that illegally spent $11 million to defeat Washington State’s GMO labeling initiative) recently proposed a federal GMO labeling law. Importantly, GMA’s legislation would only require voluntary labeling—Monsanto and other producers would not have to label GMOs. The point of passing such weak “GMO labeling” legislation isn’t to implement GMO labeling—it’s to prevent state governments from doing so themselves, because state laws would actually require labels! Like the King amendment, the GMA’s bill is intended to preempt every single hard-won state GMO labeling bill, including Maine’s, which was just signed into law last Thursday. ANH-USA provided the draft language for the Maine law and worked with state legislators to fine-tune the bill.
Between the King Amendment and the GMA’s dangerous new legislation, it’s clear that the fight for GMO labeling has just begun: more legislative battles are looming on the horizon. But we can take some comfort from the fact that Big Biotech is only offering voluntary GMO labeling because of the progress we have made to date. Big Biotech is clearly worried about all the money they have had to spend to win referenda, and even more worried that, in the future, they will lose no matter how many millions they dump into the battle. Consumers can win this struggle. All we have to do is persevere and pour on the pressure.
We have a copy of the GMA strategy and there have been discussions about it on the Hill, but the bill has not yet been formally introduced. ANH-USA is meeting with congressional leaders now and together we’re working through the best approach, and we’ll let you know the moment it’s appropriate to take action. For now, we’re asking you to focus on the Farm Bill. Urgent Action Alert! Ask Congress to throw out the King amendment and keep Section 11321! Even if you have already done so, please contact your legislators again—help us stand up for small farmers and GMO labeling activists. Please take action immediately!