On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar voted with the Republican majority on the Senate Agriculture Committee to prohibit the mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients by states or by the federal government (“Senate panel OKs ban on GMO labeling laws,” March 2).
This is a betrayal by Klobuchar of American Indians, mothers, children, families and farmers in Minnesota.
The bill Klobuchar voted for states:
“No State or a political subdivision of a State may directly or indirectly establish under any authority … any requirement relating to the labeling of whether a food (including food served in a restaurant or similar establishment) or seed is genetically engineered … or was developed or produced using genetic engineering …”
This radical overreach by the federal government would prevent farmers from knowing whether the seeds they purchase are GE. It would overturn Minnesota statutes that regulate the planting of GE crops. The bill was opposed by the Minnesota and National Farmers Union, yet Klobuchar voted for it.
Klobuchar’s vote betrays Minnesota’s Indian tribes, who worked hard to get a state statute passed requiring that an environmental-impact statement be completed before GE wild rice is developed.
Defending her vote, Klobuchar said, “I try to operate in a zone of science and not an evidence-free zone.”
The scientific evidence shows that the adoption of GE crops has led to: 1) an increase in the amount of pesticides used in agriculture, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program; 2) development of herbicide resistance in over 20 weed species; 3) insecticide resistance in target pests, including corn rootworms; 4) increased residues of pesticides in foods, including Roundup, a probable human carcinogen; 5) loss of biological diversity, including Monarch butterflies, and 6) massive increases in seed costs for farmers.
Despite mounting evidence of harm, the bill directs the USDA to “educate” consumers on the “benefits of agricultural biotechnology, through education, outreach, and promotion to address consumer acceptance of agricultural biotechnology,” instead of providing honest, transparent information and letting the free market decide the fate of this novel technology.
Polls consistently show that over 90 percent of Americans want GE foods labeled, a disclosure available to the citizens of 64 other countries.
Why are the biotech and processed-food industries so afraid to tell us what is in our food? The more Klobuchar and her campaign contributors try to hide the truth from us, the more suspicious we become.
James Riddle, of Winona, is a farmer and board member of Right to Know Minnesota.