Whole Foods Aligns With Monsanto To Support Lackluster GMO-Labeling Legislation

New legislation would override all state laws and enact a GMO labeling policy filled with loopholes.

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New legislation that would override Vermont’s mandatory GMO labelling laws have unearthed a new shady prospect; a Monsanto and Whole Foods compromise.  Two members of the Senate Committee of Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry – Chairman Sen. Pat Roberts (KS) and Ranking Member Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI) — created a “compromise” in a new legislation that would override the Vermont law.

The CEOs of Monsanto, Whole Foods, Stonyfield, Smucker’s and Organic Trade Association lobbyists were at the supporting press conference to back the new bill. CEO of Whole Foods, Walter Robb, supports the legislation at the Aspen Institute, stating:

“The alternative is that Vermont goes into effect and then there’s a number of other states behind that, it makes it difficult for manufacturers to be able to label and label to that different standard.

And I think the way she’s put the bill together, which is to give manufacturers choices, is I think the marketplace and the customers will take it from here. So obviously, I think she’s done a great piece of work. We are already are out there further with our commitment to full transparency by 2018. We’re not gonna… we’re looking at how these two live with each other, but we’re already past that, but I think in this day and age, to come together, to create some sort of a reasonable standard that manufacturers can… and [give] the customer a lot more information is a pretty good thing.”

Aligning yourself with a company that has come widely under fire for their negligent use of pesticides and poisonous gases is not necessarily a side you want to be on as a health foods grocery store. However, this bill attempts to act as national legislation to compromise between the industries.

PREVIOUS LEGISLATION VS. NEW LEGISLATION

Back in July of 2015, the U.S House of Representatives approved a bill that would BLOCK states from requiring mandatory labeling of food that was made with genetically-modified organisms, or GMOs. It would also set up a voluntary federal program to certify if foods contain GMOs or not.

The vote was passed majority Republican, with a 275 to 150 vote. 230 Republicans and 45 Democrats passed what they believe is a “first step” in updating the food policy, but realistically is completely useless when it comes to transparent and consistent food labelling for the average American.

The new Vermont-based law that was passed on July 1st of 2016 would have pushed for mandatory GMO labels on all foods.  The bill was passed two years ago and finally came into effect last month.

Trade associations that represent major food companies staunchly object to mandatory labelling. But proponents of labelling want an all-encompassing national standard for labelling that covers all 50 states.

This month, the bill created by Chairman Sen. Pat Roberts (KS) and Ranking Member Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI) that would override all state laws, passed 63 to 30 that makes all GMO labelling only slightly mandatory; including many exceptions, loopholes, and muddled information.

When you take a look at the legislation [PDF], it is anything but compromise, and almost exclusively another set of loopholes coined with the term “mandatory”. It would have “mandatory” labelling on items that aren’t primarily meat, stock, eggs or poultry. But those “mandatory” labels could even just be a sticker with their website or a phone number that says “call for more information”.

The legislation would also override any states from creating their own laws about GMO labelling.

To be fair, the bill is a minor improvement on the former bill passed by the House of Representatives that allowed only voluntary GMO labeling. The new legislation (S.764) has been passed by Congress and as of the 19th of July has been presented to the President for the final review.

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