Department of Agriculture

Reaching the groundbreaking Paris Agreement was arguably the easy part. Implementation in the United States is going to require bureaucratic participation from more than just the EPA.

Listen to US Department of Agricukture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s comments on implementing climate change iniatives here.

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U.S. House Blocks State Laws that Require GMO Labelling

On Thursday, July 23, 2015, the United States House of Representatives passed the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act” (or, as opponents call it, the “Deny Americans the Right to Know” Act) with 275 representatives voting in favor of the bill and 150 opposed.  This bill makes the labeling of food that contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs) voluntary, and is applied nationally. This has the effect of preempting and overruling the states that are attempting to or have passed laws that require that all GMO containing food-products be labelled accordingly (Maine and Connecticut, for example).

Many food and agricultural companies lobbied for the bill, stating the requirement that some states put on them (or would put on them, should individual states pass label requirement laws) would be heavily burdensome. Conversely, those opposed to GMOs continue to cite that science is unclear on the effects that GMOs have on the environment and on the consumer.

Oregon Senate Bill 207

In interesting remedy to the dichotomy created by the infamous US Supreme Court Monsanto decision [or as some characterize the predatory and evil practices of Monsanto], Oregon introduced a bill earlier this year that seeks to help the often targeted smaller farmers.

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Senate Bill 207 seeks to establish “control areas” between growers of genetically modified ((and thus patent-protected) plants and the growing of “other plants” in order to avoid conflicts between growers that naturally arise from cross-pollination (wherein plants accidentally incorporate legally protected biotech genes, potentially incurring large monetary liability on innocent farmers merely based on wind patterns and proximity.

Oregon’s legislative session ends July 30, 2015 and this bill is currently sitting in a committee, so if you are an Oregon resident, find your legislator and contribute to the discussion or stay informed!

Enlist GMO Crop Rollout Still Faces Hurdles

The USDA approved Enlist September 17, 2014.  Dow AgroScience’s new genetically-modified corn and soybean crop is resistant to the Enlist pesticide that kills all other weeds and growth in fields.  The president of Dow AgroSciences, Tim Hassinger, claims that Enlist will boost productivity for “safe and affordable food supply.”  According to Hassinger, Dow Agrobusiness has “used the latest science and technology to address problem weeds. Enlist will be a very effective solution and we’re pleased to have this technology one step closer to the farmgate.”

However, some hurdles still exist post-approval.  The founder of Center for Food Safety, Andrew Kimbrell, already plans to litigate in hopes of delaying the crops as they did with GMO sugar beets, canola, and alfalfa.

China has also begun to reject shipments of US corn based on concerns for GMO products and its lack of approval in China.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement can be found here.

Reuters

Forbes 

AgWeb

California Senate to Consider Law that would Require Labeling of Genetically Modified Agricultural Products

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California bill SB1381 would deem any product ‘mislabeled’ if it is partially or entirely genetically engineered and the label does not say so.  This bill is especially progressive because it allows any individual to sue the company for injunctive relief – that is, to halt mislabeled production until they appropriately disclose what contents are genetically modified.  This bill is especially friendly to consumers because any consumer that sues for mislabeling would be able to have all attorney fees paid for by the offending company.