GMO Food

Congress Talks GMO Labeling, Actually Makes Sense

The early results of this bipartisan effort, it may surprise you to learn, aren't half bad.

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Henry Waxmn
Congress

Recently, the FDA, courts, and voters in several states have had their say on a variety of food-labeling issues.

The FDA's menu-labeling rules dropped last month. Lawsuits on a variety of food-labeling issues continue to bubble. Examples include lawsuits over labels appearing on foods from mayonnaise to booty to skim milk.

Now Congress is having its say. And the early results of this bipartisan effort, it may surprise you to learn, aren't half bad.

The issue Congress chose to tackle, in a hearing this week, is that of mandatory GMO labeling. While several states are agitating for such labels—and Vermont voters even approved such a measure—there have also been calls for Congress and the FDA to implement some sort of mandatory federal labeling scheme.

Last week, for example, a group of celebrity chefs traveled to Washington to push Congress to label GMO foods. But that move may have backfired.

"In a press conference before the meeting, about half a dozen of the chefs admitted to reporters they do not have GMO labeling on their menus," reported Politico.

As if that news wasn't bad enough for the activist chefs, this week's hearing on Capitol Hill shows that Congress appears to have little stomach for either state or federal GMO labeling regulations.

"If the labeling could result in higher food costs, then maybe that's not a risk we want to take," said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ).

"I'm concerned that mandatory [GMO] labeling could be inherently misleading," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) in an opening statement during Wednesday's energy and commerce committee's health subcommittee hearing.

Waxman said FDA-mandated GMO labels could serve to mislead consumers by implying GMO foods aren't as safe as conventional ones. FDA officials claim GMO foods are just as safe as any others.

The lack of fervor for more regulations surprised some. Waxman in particular, reports Politico, is one of "a handful of key lawmakers from the Democratic party with a reputation for being proactive on food regulation [and who] surprisingly expressed concern over the recent push for GMO labeling requirements."

The concerns of Democrats like Pallone and Waxman were echoed by their Republican colleagues.

"Food labeling is a matter of interstate commerce, and is therefore clearly a federal issue that rightfully resides with Congress and the FDA," said subcommittee Chairman Joseph R. Pitts (R-PA) in his opening remarks. "I am concerned that a patchwork of fifty separate state labeling schemes would be impractical and unworkable."

Opposition in Congress both to a federal labeling scheme and to state efforts to demonize GMO foods has helped give rise to a bipartisan bill that would crack down on the latter.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) is pushing the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-NC), would preempt state labeling laws like that in Vermont and, Pompeo says, "protect consumers by eliminating confusion and advancing food safety."

Effectively, the sensible bill would tell states and cities that they cannot do what the Constitution forbids them already from doing: require, for example, local approval for labels of foods moving in interstate commerce. The bill would reserve for producers the option to label foods that do or do not contain GMO ingredients.

One group supporting the Pompeo/Butterfield bill is the Grocery Manufacturers Association. In a GMA press release earlier this year, one partner called the bill "an important first step to restoring sanity to America's food labeling laws."

GMA should know about such steps. They filed suit in federal court earlier this year challenging Vermont's unconstitutional GMO-labeling law, which mandates that the label of a food product containing genetically engineered ingredients must display an affirmative declaration of the presence of such ingredients if the product is to be sold in the state. That suit is ongoing. Meanwhile, a separate lawsuit filed this week by supporters of an Oregon ballot initiative that would have mandated GMO labeling in the state—which lost at the ballot box—has already been rescinded.

Efforts to force labeling in Vermont, Oregon, and many other states is clear evidence of the need for action. I'd prefer the Supreme Court weigh in on the Vermont lawsuit and side with GMA, effectively settling the issue. The next-best thing would be for Congress to act. If this week is any indication, Congress might beat the high court to the punch.

NEXT: Book recommendations from me and my colleagues

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  1. So, Tim Cavanaugh had some interesting things to say about the Reason Foundation on his facebook page last night:

    I’m saying Reason Foundation currently employs sexual predators, and it doesn’t do me any good to speak out about it other than that truth is always best.

    To my knowledge, your husband isn’t one of them either. To my direct knowledge Melissa Palmer is, and according to multiple witnesses Nick Gillespie is.

    1. Interesting. I shall await with baited breath a definition of “Sexual Predator” and some kind of evidence that he isn’t talking out of his ass.

      In the current atmosphere, I am strongly inclined to assume that if somebody is charged with being something vague like a “Sexual Predator” (as oppose to a specific charge of “he did thus and so at such and such a time, and here’s the proof”) that a Narrative ? is being built.

      Show me I’m wrong, Mr. Cavanaugh.

      1. he did thus and so at such and such a time, and here’s the proof

        You ask too much. Preponderance of evidence (basically, presumption of guilt) is all the rage now.

        1. Rage is a word well chosen. I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of it, until this particular Progressive assault on our social foundations is over.

      2. Yeah, that’s weird and creepy. I greatly dislike the sexism/racism witch hunts that are going on these days. It’s one thing when it’s actual rape, or if someone actually turned out to be involved in a violent hate crime or something. But it’s all degraded to the point where one joke, one political donation, one ill-considered remark, one awkward moment, is enough to destroy careers and lives.

    2. To my direct knowledge Melissa Palmer is

      Well, Tim, please go on ….

      1. At least give a phone number and some pix. Sheesh.

    3. Nick is a gentleman. The Jacket, on the other hand…

      1. LL Leather J = Ladies Love Leather Jackets.

      2. That jacket is the Sexual Predator uniform.

    4. Sexual predator? What does that mean. “…and it doesn’t do me any good to speak out about it other than that truth is always best…”. If so, why did he obscure the truth by not saying what the charge is?

      Sexual predator to me implies someone going after children. But, I have no idea what he means by this. Is it someone who sleeps around?

      1. These days I’m pretty sure “sexual predator” means anyone who hits on, cat calls, MALE GAZES at, or otherwise shows any interest whatsoever in attractive members of the opposite gender (or same gender for that matter), but it applies to doubly to heterosexual men (natch).

        1. Don’t forget a guy who burps or farts too loudly, a particularly subtle form of predatory dominance.

          1. …er…maybe not so subtle.

    5. OK, so he’s a vindictive dick. In other news, gravity causes objects to fall to earth.

  2. That’s it. Congress making sense? It’s the End Times.

    1. Nah. They all received big campaign contributions from Monsanto. It was a fluke they did something reasonable.

    2. Moving in the right (as in correct) direction, but for the wrong reasons.

  3. “Food labeling is a matter of interstate commerce, and is therefore clearly a federal issue that rightfully resides with Congress and the FDA,” said subcommittee Chairman Joseph R. Pitts (R-PA) in his opening remarks.

    Remember when the commerce clause simply meant that the federal gov’t would keep commerce between/among the States regular? In other words, “functioning” and preventing one State from imposing a tariff on imports from another State.

    “I am concerned that a patchwork of fifty separate state labeling schemes would be impractical and unworkable.”

    I am concerned that you do not see this as a reason that the whole scheme is impractical, possibly unworkable, and certainly does not fall under federal authority from the commerce clause when taken at face value and it’s original meaning. “Words”: What do they mean?

    1. “Food labeling is a matter of interstate commerce, and is therefore clearly a federal issue that rightfully resides with Congress and the FDA,” said subcommittee Chairman Joseph R. Pitts (R-PA) in his opening remarks. “I am concerned that a patchwork of fifty separate state labeling schemes would be impractical and unworkable.”

      Odd that somebody from Pennsylvania would say something that ignorant.

      Go get some microwavable food out of your freezer and take a good look at the packaging. I’ll bet you there’s a “Reg. Penna. Dept. Ag.” on it somewhere – Pennsylvania has the strictest laws on baked goods so all the food everywhere gets marked like that so it can be sold anywhere, including Pennsylvania. It’s worked just fine since 1933 when Pennylvania passed their law.

    2. Remember when the commerce clause simply meant that the federal gov’t would keep commerce between/among the States regular? In other words, “functioning” and preventing one State from imposing a tariff on imports from another State.

      No, I don’t, because it never did. If the Framers intended to forbid states from setting tariffs, they could have said so explicitly. In fact they did (Article I Section 10)

      No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it’s inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

      So why would they include a murky reference to interstate commerce merely to re-state what had already been stated elsewhere far more plainly? Answer: the commerce clause was intended to cover a lot more than merely preventing tariffs.

      “Regulate” meant in 1787 what it means now: to discipline, control, and make rules. Regula is the Latin word for “rule”. Hence “well-regulated militia” in the 2nd means a disciplined militia; “thermoregulators” control temperature; etc.

      1. Stampede, why should we broaden the power of the government because the Constitution includes a reference to Congress’ power

        [The Congress shall have Power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

        when elsewhere that power is very precisely and narrowly defined as it concerns relations among the states – as you quoted? Your argument is backwards. At most the commerce clause claims Congress’ power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and Indian Tribes.

    3. That thinking makes basically all commerce under the rule of the Feds. Because there is hardly a business anywhere that sources every one of its inputs from within the State it resides.

  4. Examples include lawsuits over labels appearing on foods from mayonnaise to booty to skim milk.

    Booty food.

  5. The Cicret Bracelet: It’s like a tablet…but on your skin!

    With all due respect, I’m not holding my breath for this.

    1. My wife showed me that last week. I’m sure the early models are gonna have a lot of glitches. But if they can get those fixed in the 2nd and 3rd models, that would be fucking awesome.

      1. A tiny lens projecting a high-res image like that, at an angle? Fingers don’t cast shadows? The touch resolution of skin is as good as a tablet? And it’s waterproof? I am hugely skeptical.

        1. And how could you get an image with any white in it when projecting on anything other than albino skin? And how do they get the electronics and batteries into a slim and bendable bracelet, without hugely expensive custom components?

          The more I think of it, the more I think this is someone’s fantasy or hoax.

          1. Most of us are albinos here, which is why we didn’t think of this. I’m sorry for you pigmented people (we albinos call you ‘pigmys’).

          2. Light waves are racist.

        2. My skin is waterproof.

  6. “I am concerned that a patchwork of fifty separate state labeling schemes would be impractical and unworkable.”

    This goes for pretty much anything else.

    1. Hell, the way the federal government works ONE NATIONAL labeling scheme is impractical and unworkable.

      1. Very well. A patchwork of fifty separate NATIONAL labeling schemes it shall be.

    2. ” This goes for pretty much anything else.”

      And that is pretty much every pol and judge’s interpretation of the CC.

    3. No, it doesn’t. Scattershot labeling schemes are particularly problematic because they present significant barriers to entry and restrict the ability to move goods between markets.

      You guys are letting your states’ rights dogma get in the way of your libertarianism. Sad.

  7. The FDA’s menu-labeling rules dropped last month.

    “Dropped” meaning “diminished”, or “were dropped” (i.e. abandoned), or in the sense of released, hit the table, as in the shoe dropping? The link is inoperative.

    Mr. Linnekin, of all the bloggers here, you’re the one I consistently have comprehension problems with. You may be a budding novelist or poet, but mostly I read here for news & analysis. You know: who, what, when, where, why, how. If you can get those across, I don’t care if the content is bone-dry; if you can’t, I don’t care if I’m ROFL, transfixed by your prose, or otherwise emotionally engaged.

  8. Japan is out of butter, ’cause old cows:

    “Japan runs short of butter as dairy farms dwindle”
    http://www.buffalonews.com/app…..e=printart

    Well, maybe there are OTHER problems:
    “Japan’s Agriculture and Livestock Industries Corp., or ALIC, which is overseen by the farm ministry, buys and sells products through an open and online bidding process, to help ensure stability of prices and supplies, in effect subsidizing loss-making farmers and manufacturers.
    The system, meant to ensure stable supplies, appears to be failing to do that, at least for butter.”
    The planning commission didn’t plan right! Who could ever have seen that coming?
    Oh, and the article is full of tariff mumbo-jumbo…

    1. I hate the smell of butter leaves on my finger.

      1. Would those be leaves from a butter tree?

  9. Sounds like these politicians have been influenced by Big Agro.
    Congress should stay out of it and let the states decide. Professor Linnekin pre-supposes that GMOs are “safe” – I would urge him to study the paper referenced in the following article:

    http://www.bloombergview.com/a…..ied-future

    There are huge systemic risks we are taking by relying on GMOs, risks that most of us have not considered.

    1. Fine, urge like-minded people to buy only products certified as containing ingredients only from randomly-mutated organisms. You can set up a trademark sticker that says “This product made solely from organisms produced from random mutations” or something similar.

      Oh, wait. You want to force other people to support your pet cause. In that case piss off.

      1. Yea the distinction between natural mutation, Mendelian cross breeding, and GMO escapes me somehow.

        1. There is really no difference except GMO is faster, more controlled, and has fewer undesirable side-effects.

        2. the distinction between natural mutation, Mendelian cross breeding, and GMO escapes me somehow.

          GMO’s can be made by splicing a butterfly gene into a tomato, for example. This would not be possible in nature. So there is a distinction.

          However, this does not make GMO’s more dangerous than any other foods.

          1. This would not be possible in nature.

            Actually, this does indeed happen in nature.

    2. “There are huge systemic risks we are taking by relying on GMOs, risks that most of us have not considered.”

      Usually, I’d ask for cites, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every one you can find and every one of them is bullshit on stilts and/or ‘precautionary principle’.
      Suffice to say, regardless of your religion, nature ain’t always wonderful.

      1. Same bullshit as climate change

        1. And in both cases (GMOs and climate chage) you get total support from big government as well as from land grant universities.

    3. You mean one of the most analyzed subjects in science?

      ‘Huge systemic risks’ is short-form for ‘we can’t actually find anything wrong with them, but wish to claim they’re horrible anyway’. Chemotherapy and vaccines had more ‘huge systemic risks’ than GMOs when they were started.

      1. Alternatively, the use of pesticides, which GMOs help decrease have ‘huge systemic risks’ by your own logic.

    4. That was seriously retarded.

      Not a single actual risk is actually identified or discussed in the article. Not a single “scientist” is cited. All it is is a bunch of blather about black swans and how there could be some unforseen devastating risk out there, somewhere and OMG UNKNOWNS ARE SCARY AAAAAA!!!!!!!

    5. Also, go die in a ditch you disingenuous, evil cunts. You are trying to destroy the future of humanity with your religious zealoutry and your dishonest bullshit. I loathe everything you represent you scum.

    6. “Despite all precautions, genes from modified organisms inevitably invade natural populations, and from there have the potential to spread uncontrollably through the genetic ecosystem.”

      Oh, is he talking about that thing that has periodically happened for millennia, long before GMOs were ever invented?

      1. Where the fuck does he think the genes came from, if not “natural populations”?

        It’s not like genes are made from mutant alien protoplasm from the lizard planet.
        Every fucking gene comes from SOME “natural population” or other.

        1. I suppose you guys haven’t seen “Interstellar”. The planet will eventually kick us all out by removing our food source. GMO is a good way to make this happen. All praise Gaia.

  10. my classmate’s sister makes $61 /hr on the laptop . She has been fired from work for eight months but last month her check was $16641 just working on the laptop for a few hours. why not look here ….
    ?????? http://www.payinsider.com

  11. Natalie . even though Steven `s artlclee is nice… I just purchased Peugeot 205 GTi after earning $6824 thiss month and-even more than, ten grand this past-month . with-out any question its my favourite job Ive had .
    Best way to keep join======== http://www.jobsfish.com

  12. By the way.

    Stupid chefs.

    1. You don’t know the half of it:

      “She is currently one of the most visible supporters of the organic food movement, and has been a proponent of organics for over 40 years.[4] Waters believes that eating organic foods, free from herbicides and pesticides, is essential for both taste and the health of the environment and local communities.”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Waters

      And:
      “The problem with living in a fast-food nation is that we expect food to be cheap.
      Alice Waters”
      http://www.brainyquote.com/quo…..24650.html

      1. Nuts.

        Yeah I’ve heard politicians also say the problem is that food is too cheap.

        And by the way, Montreal is now copying Bloomberg in attempting to tax sugary drinks. Stupidity spreads.

      2. I always narrow my eyes when someone claims his beliefs “help the environment/community,” as it’s probably the most overused sentence in politics today.

      3. And, the problem with statists is they think by banning cheap food and ensuring everyone lives up to the standards they want to be forced to live up to, food will still be cheap. They are shocked when it becomes unaffordable.

      4. AKA “The problem with living in a fast-food nation is that we expect poor people to be able to afford food”

        What a bitch.

  13. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
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  14. Would anyone here happen to know how to get in touch with Melissa?

  15. Or, we could just let people decide whether they want to advertise their product as GMO free and should the market put a premium on these then more suppliers will enter the market….and so on.

  16. “”I’m concerned that mandatory [GMO] labeling could be inherently misleading,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA)”

    Let’s not get all excited about Dems supporting a reasonable bill. It’s still the same paternalistic crap. Let’s not bother the peasants with information they’re too stupid to understand.

    “The bill would reserve for producers the option to label foods that do or do not contain GMO ingredients.”

    That is actually good news. Let the anti GMO folks have their labels, and let them pay the cost of tracking that information too. Fine with me.

  17. my classmate’s mother makes $83 hourly on the computer . She has been out of a job for five months but last month her paycheck was $13982 just working on the computer for a few hours. Check This Out………

    http://www.Jobs-spot.com

  18. You know, there’s a fairly simple way to shut this nonsense down while neither preempting state laws nor arguing the public should be denied the right to know.

    Just pass a Federal law requiring labeling products of mutation breeding in any location that requires GMO labeling. Something like “Contains Chemically or Radiologically Induced Artificial Mutations”, with all penalties regarding failure to label to be equal to those of the state’s GMO law.

    1. Mutation?! Radiation!! Chemicals!!

      Ban them and burn with fire!!! We are all going to dieeeeeeeeeee!

  19. labels appearing on foods from mayonnaise to booty to skim milk

    Hey, you can’t be labeling da booty! That’s sexist!

  20. As long as we’re on the subject, there is great article on GMOs here:
    http://www.geneticliteracyproj…..-gm-crops/

    1. The CU creature sure tries the limits of duplicity and deserves worse treatment than he gets. And I’m not sure about the claim that AGW is going to make food harder to come by.
      But other than that, he makes the hidden costs more evident and also the amount of testing done on something that seems to require none; do the eco-weenies want to test the random mutant in the back corner of the wheat field?

  21. Dude seems to talk a LOT of smack!

    http://www.AnonPlanet.tk

  22. What’s up with the ( photoshopped? ) image of the hideously deformed monster labeled Congress?

  23. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.jobs700.com

  24. I hope that the anti-GMO people keep getting called on their made up crap. If stores want to sell no GMO, let them put a sign up. They I can refuse to shop there and the sheep can buy their fairy tale product.

  25. By the way, Popular Science has a great article on GMO’s with the real truth

    http://www.popsci.com/article/…..s-debunked

    1. Reminds me of the pro climate change arguments. Incidentally, when I went to their website the first web-ad was for GMO sweet corn. I enjoy me some good advocacy…

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