Senate Passes GMO Labeling Bill: Activists Are Apoplectic!

Preempts labeling requirements in Vermont and other states


Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

"Federal courts have just days to stop Vermont's unconstitutional, costly, and misguided genetically modified (GMO) food-labeling law from taking effect," warned Reason contributors Baylen Linnekin and Julie Kelly a little over a week ago. Vermont's law took effect on July 1. In that same article, Linnekin and Kelly noted that the U.S. Senate was inching "toward a compromise that would, if passed, prohibit laws like Vermont's from taking effect. But even if that bill were to become law, it won't come in time to halt Vermont's law from taking effect next week."

Better late than never. The Senate has taken a procedural step that will lead to the passage of a bill that would mandate federal GMO labeling of foods, either on-package or by means of QR codes. Since foods made with ingredients from modern biotech crops are no more dangerous or nutritionally different than those made from conventional or organic crops, such labels are likely to mislead consumers. However, the new federal requirements will prevent the proliferation of widely varying state labeling mandates. Of course, a non-fraudulent voluntary system of process labeling akin what is done now with regard to kosher and halal products would be much preferable.

In any case, infuriated activists showered the senators with $2,000, apparently to symbolize their being "bought-off" by Big Gene. The thoroughly dishonest and scientifically illiterate Friends of the Earth issued a press release:

This bill is a travesty, an undemocratic and discriminatory bill which preempts state laws, while offering no meaningful labeling for GMOs. If accepted, Americans will remain in the dark about what we feed our families. We are deeply disappointed in the members of Congress who supported this bill and who did not stand with the vast majority of Americans who want mandatory on-package GMO labeling.

Last week, 100 Nobel Laureates called Greenpeace's opposition to biotech crops "a crime against humanity." FOE's unceasing efforts to mislead the public about biotech crops is also a crime.

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  1. So are they labeling all food gmo?

  2. Will the Senate pass legislation to pre-empt transwarp passing Warp 10 and de-evolving into Giant Horny Salamanders?

  3. ALL state-mandated (product) labeling / state-mandated printing laws are an inherent violation of freedom of the press. What else needs to be said.

    1. Oh, goody. Then I could package up Drano(r) and label it as Kool-Aid(r). And sell it to morons like you.
      That’s exactly what you deserve.

  4. Wasn’t there a poll where many of the respondents supported mandatory labeling of products containing DNA?

    1. you mean this:

      Washington Post OSU Survey

      This type of scientific illiteracy is just another sign of the failure of our primary education systems.

  5. FOE’s unceasing efforts to mislead the public about biotech crops is also a crime.

    Wow, Fist is a bigger jerk than I thought he was.

    1. Some places aren’t ready for my truth bombs. WHAT’S NEXT? IMPLANTING HITLER’S BRAIN INTO A TOMATO?

        1. If I threw a tomato at an anti-GMO activist, would he call it assault with a deadly weapon?

          1. Tomatoes are fine with a salt shaker nearby.

    2. You are such a small thinker…

  6. apparently to symbolize their being “bought-off” by Big Gene.

    Absolutely Luthorian!

  7. infuriated activists showered the senators with $2,000, apparently to symbolize their being “bought-off” by Big Gene

    I didn’t realize these people had paying jobs to generate this type of disposable income.

    1. It’s almost universally a symptom of privilege. I’m sure starving people around the world are just infuriated they are being fed Golden Rice.

  8. such labels are likely to mislead consumers

    QR codes will certainly solve that problem.

    1. Because who doesn’t both have a smart phone and know how to use a QR code, right?

      When 40% of the population doesnt have the technology to use a QR code and as many as 20% of those that do have them dont have any idea how to use the codes. Add in the number of people who are apathetic on the issue and you come up with a “Why bother” quotient nearing 100%

  9. sea Salty slow food organic farm to table Tears….yum

  10. This bill is a travesty, an undemocratic and discriminatory bill which preempts state laws

    Wait, I thought progtards hated state’s rights. Something about “racist dog whistles”?

    1. Is there any group that doesn’t flip-flop on state rights depending on the issue?

      1. Constitution party?

        1. Mussolini?

  11. As a reminder, GaryJohnson is PRO mandatory GMO labeling.

    1. standards are really really low this election.

    2. I like how he conflated GMO crops (which are arguably part of the reason the amount of farmland present in the world can support the population) with nefarious gluten? erm, sorry “poison”? lurking in the grocery store.

      He’s miles better than the others, but just goes to show that the lesser of three evils is still evil.

  12. Bailey’s unceasing slanders of anyone who thinks that they should maybe at least know what they are being sold is both predictable and boring, as are his clumsy attempts to equate the desire to be informed with prohibition. His paternal concern that labels will confuse all of the uneducated unwashed and that we should all just shut up and take the word of our betters seems more like the lefty mindset than what should be at home in a libertarian magazine.

    1. So what you’re saying is that there should be a law?

    2. “This product is 100% lizard-people free.”

      Are you more informed now?


        Organic = Good, but Chemicals = Bad! What to think?? AAAGGGHHHH!!!!!!!
        Heads explode.

    3. His paternal concern that labels will confuse all of the uneducated unwashed

      That’s not at all what Bailey means. Rather, a label’s presence suggests that consumers should look out for products that contain GMOs; the label implies that there is something harmful about GMOs even though absolutely no evidence has been presented to confirm this.

      1. So any damn thing Monsanto wants to pass off as “grain” is fine with you? Remember, we are deciding a principle here, not judging the current crops. The decision is whether consumers get to know what is in the package, or not. Today’s GMOs may indeed be safe and harmless but that does not mean that I want any future science experiment to be passed off as “food” with no oversight and without we consumers even being told about it.

        I honestly do not understand the resistance to informed consent. The plain fact is that the genetic manipulation being done in labs today is unprecedented in human history and expressing some caution about turning the world’s food supply into patented products with proprietary formulas owned by a few megacorps does not make one a Luddite.

        1. So, again, what you’re saying is that there ought be a law.

        2. If you’re that paranoid, then buy only “GMO Free” products; those labels have come about without state mandates.

          1. Right, but, see, it’s important that everyone else reads a label in comportment with my preferences too, even if they’re not currently seeking it out (which they totally should, because I do).

        3. I honestly do not understand the resistance to informed consent.

          People who package food, not unreasonably, want to design one label they can ship to anywhere in the U.S.

          If 20 states come up with different requirements for GMO labels then the manufacturers would have to not only design 20 different labels, they would also have to make sure the products with the required labels went to the correct state, and only the correct state. If there turned out to be more demand for their product in one state, they couldn’t alleviate the demand with product from a neighboring state.

          Consumers purchasing their product would end up bearing those extra costs.

          As an alternative, simply let anti-GMO producers voluntarily label their products “GMO free.” Assume everything not so labelled, isn’t. Consumers get exactly the same information, at no cost.

        4. I honestly do not understand the resistance to informed consent

          And, I honestly don’t understand why you require the force of government to provide you the “informed consent” you are seeking. Because, government involvement would be the trigger for the resistance.

          The decision is whether consumers get to know what is in the package, or not.

          If you don’t know, then Don’t. Buy. It.
          Of course, based on your words and attitude, it would seem that your real argument is something along the lines of, “I demand that I get to buy whatever I want under whatever conditions I want, and I expect the government to enforce my vision!”

          Tough Titty. If you don’t have the info you want regarding a product, Don’t. Buy. It.

      2. This is similar to how chicken is being sold as “hormone free” indicating no hormones or steroids were added so they raise the price of the chicken.

        It’s illegal to add those to chicken in the US so those companies are literally playing on the ignorance of the consumer to charge them more.

      3. The government already requires warning on any product that MIGHT contain tree nuts, peanuts, or shellfish.

        Why should we let them do that? Those things are only SOMETIMES fatal (and only to SOME people).
        ————— —————– —————- ——————-

        But I must admit, it can get a bit ridiculous. The other day I saw a bag of cashews. On the back of the bag it said:

        INREDIENTS: cashews
        WARNING: contains cashews


    4. I think the safe answer is this. Any producer who goes to the trouble of sourcing GMO ingredients are going to put “Non-GMO” on the label. You are safe to assume that everything else has at least a little GMO in it.

      1. This. No one is stopping anyone from knowing what is in their food. Just buy certified non-GMO.

        1. Yup – there’s certainly no shortage of “Non-GMO!” trumpeting at my supermarket. And if that isn’t enough of a clue, there’s always the sticker-shock.

        2. No see, that raises the cost to people who so at whole foods and can actually afford to pay a dollar per tomato. What you need is to force the prices up on the food the little people eat, for the convenience of the well off.

          1. You are being sarcastic, but I heard the VT secretary of agriculture (or whatever the title is) say that voluntary labeling is bad because it pushes the cost onto the small numbers of consumers and small businesses that care about GMOs.

            1. Sounds like communism in a nutshell: make you pay for someone else’s stupidity.

      2. Crud, I kinda got that backwards, “sourcing non-GMO”, but I guess there was enough context..

    5. Said to say, Bill, it’s predictable here. Bailey thinks investigation and demands of emails is a precursor to lysenkoism when it’s large oil companies being investigated, but he certainly has no problem when it’s science organizations being investigated.

      Same here when people and states demand the label, but large companies are inconvenienced. States rights be damned!

      1. Bailey thinks investigation and demands of emails is a precursor to lysenkoism when it’s large oil companies being investigated, but he certainly has no problem when it’s science organizations being investigated.

        We’ve already explained the public/private distinction; it’s essential, as the statutes that apply are completely different (FOIA only applies to public organizations such as NOAA; the state AGs have nothing but insider trading and reporting laws which do not apply here, their bad-faith “interpretations” notwithstanding). More importantly, if taxpayers pay for your research, you should be forced to disclose it.

        Same here when people and states demand the label, but large companies are inconvenienced. States rights be damned!

        We only give a fuck about “States’ rights” (which I’ve never seen anyone here call it; rather, it’s called “federalism”) insofar as it protects liberty.

        You could at least avoid all the straw man arguments, joe.

        1. Oh yeah, you did explain the distinction. You were an ignoramus then, and you remain one.

          Due tell us…is Union of Concerned Scientists public? How about Greenpeace? Rockefeller Fund?


        2. Oh, and liberty… No liberty for Vermonters eh? Yes, we will all wait for libertarians to define for us which liberties are valid.

      2. I thought states rights were dog whistle racism.

    6. By the way, se occurs around here with eminent domain. When oil companies use it, Reason has no problem. But other than that, it’s a curse.

      It’s all selective.

      1. *eminent domain

    7. You can purchase items and companies which market to retards, I mean consumers like yourself.

  13. Baylen Linnekin

    Dropping that shill’s name is not doing any good for anyone, Bailey. Claim purity all you want, but libertarianism is not going to be won by making cases for things that most people find repugnant. Libertarianism is going to be won by lemonade stands, not by justifying animal cruelty.

    1. Huh?

    2. *stands to applaud, realizes he has no fucking clue where Gilmore is going with this, sits down and flips to Wimbledon instead*

      1. Gilmore? Tonio’s apparent hatred of BL? WTF is going on?

        1. I’m lost.

          1. I’m stupid.

            (Sorry Tonio and Gimore)

            1. Gilmore.


    3. Animal cruelty? Huh?

      1. I honestly have no idea what Tonio is talking about and why he’s shitting on BL.

        1. He’s a shill for Little Raw Milk, apparently.

          1. Yes, milking cows is totally cruel…

        2. foie gras?

    4. “not by justifying animal cruelty”


  14. Central planning is better than federalism as long as we approve of the central plan.

  15. So instead of just Vermonters having to live with mandatory labeling, we all do? And this is supposed to be a win?

    1. That was my first thought.

      This is the danger of dormant commerce clause arguments that a lot of libertarians and Republicans have been making lately.

    2. The only real win is that it prevents each state from coming up with their own, unique, labels, required under their own, unique, conditions, and raising the price of production.

    3. At least the QR code thing means basically nobody except the anti-GMO retards will care enough to find out.

      But no, they want warning labels ON THE PACKAGE. They don’t want to lift a finger to scan a QR code with the phone camera.

    4. Well those activist meatheads hate it so there must be something good about the development.

      Unless they’re pulling some kind of sneaky misdirection trick on us.

      1. waves hand, these are not the labels you’re looking for…..

  16. I never mentioned a WARNING! label, I would simply like to know what I am buying. Food is already labeled. What is so weird about wanting the label to be accurate? To offer a product as containing wheat or rice then it should contain what has commonly been known as wheat or rice. Duh. To substitute these new altered products without any notice is a form of fraud. Why the hell should I have to assume that everything contains GMO foods unless labeled otherwise? It is the sellers of the new substitute who should bear that burden. I have no wish to be an unwilling participant in a Monsanto experiment. That hardly makes me a communist!

    1. Have you ever cared if the ketchup you’ve eaten contained a hybrid strain of tomatoes? Unless you’re insane (which I’m not discounting the possibility) you would absolutely never give this a second thought. Why should the government mandate I’m With Stupid labels to appease some naturalistic fallacy mongrels?

      1. Why does the government require labeling poisonous household chemicals as POISON?

        Why is it allowed to put a label on cigarettes that say they cause CANCER?

        Why does it mandate “safe handling instructions” for toxic pesticides and herbicides?

        Why should it NOT mandate labeling of a household FOOD that contains a toxic herbicide that has been declared by the UN to be a “probable human carcinogen”

        I am in complete agreement: IF “hybrid tomatoes” are found to contain a toxin that is a “probable human carginogen”, they damn well ougth to be labeled!

        To put it another way, why should the government require label anything at all? Let manufacturers and vendors label their products however they wish (or not at all).
        (oops…I thought that was sufficient reductio ad absurdum, but I see one poster takes has already actually proposed that ludicrous idea)

        I’m not out to stop you (or Ronald Bailey) from consuming carcinogens if you want to. In fact, In fact, I sincerely respect your (and Ronald Bailey’s) righ to go get your own f***ing genes tampered with, if it’s so g*****m safe.

        I’m just asking you, to let the rest of us choose what we eat. Is that too much to ask?
        (In return, ll even consent to letting you keep buying cigarettes (labeled) and guns (unlabeled).

    2. OMG, one gene is different. IT’S NOT WHEAT!!!!!!!!!!! OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!!!!

    3. So you think because something says it contains rice you know what is in it? Oh, look, it contains rice, I know what that is now I can waddle away fat dumb and happy…

      There are over 40,000 varieties of cultivated rice.

      All you’re asking for is a warm fuzzy blanket of ignorance to wrap yourself up in.

  17. What the anti-GMO movement is railing against is that plants are no longer changing in a random or haphazard manner.

    Those evil scientist who are trying to feed the world must be stopped! We can’t have their kind developing hardy, high yield foods because the people paying for their research want to make their money back and they might profit. clearly profit is evil so the science and its products must be evil too!!

  18. A change of one gene in not exactly trivial. To change one gene in your own body could have major effects, depending upon the gene. To equate the introducing of genes from a foreign species into a plant with cross-bred hybrids is disingenuous. Not one of you have replied with any sort of reasoned argument, only juvenile insults.

    I never mentioned stopping any scientists, evil or otherwise, or advocated preventing you or anyone from consuming what you wish. I have no opposition to putting anything on the market. Just call it what it is. We have to call wheat with a sprinkle of minerals in it “enriched wheat”. I am not asking for anything more than that. Call it by it’s trade name, don’t hide it as something which it is not. They spent billions altering these plants, so own it! Label it, be proud of it, advertise the benefits, same as any other product. But don’t sneak it in like there is no difference. I am not opposed to GMOs, I am opposed to selling them without any notice to unknowing consumers.

    The attitudes above seem to be saying “whatever it is, we don’t care, just trust in agribiz and eat it, and shut up or we’ll call you names”. Right. You really don’t know the facts—could not possibly know—- but by god you are determined to sit at the cool kids table and that is all that counts.

  19. Would you suggest that California did not have the right to pass auto emission standards more stringent than federal standards or those of other states, for the protection of their citizens, or to label known carcinogens and post notices at places of business using known carcinogens, unlike the federal government or other states, for the protection of their citizens?

    Would you suggest that New York does not have the right to regulate insurance companies more stringently than the federal government does, for the protection of their citizens?

    Would you suggest that New York City does not have the right to regulate firearms more stringently than the federal government does, or even the state of New York, for the protection of their citizens? Or that Wyoming has to regulate firearms LESS than some other states?

    This would be the only REASONABLE consequence of your stance on striking down the Vermont GMO-labeling, law, which a court has upheld.

  20. Luckily, this stance means that WE MUST OVERTURN all the idiotic state-passed “religious freedom” (aka licenses to discriminate against, and deny private or public services to LBGTQ, blacks, unwed mothers, or anyone else your “religion” shuns) should be overturned.

    Also, WE MUST OVERTURN all state laws that up the medical standards on aborion clinics above federal standards or those of other states, making abortion all but unavailable in that state, for the “protection” of their citizens.

    And so, the only reasonable thing to do would be to SUPPORT any efforts of the Federal Government to OVERRIDE, REPEAL, OR PROHIBIT ANY TYPE OF STATE LAW, without any recourse to the courts..

    Remember, that next time one of the “reasonable” columnists on this “reasonable” site whine about Congress overstepping their bounds, or about “states’ rights.”

  21. “Of course, a non-fraudulent voluntary system of process labeling akin what is done now with regard to kosher and halal products would be much preferable”.

    Then how will the food fascists be able to scare the bejesus out of people?

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