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Yuck! The Senate Won't Clear the Way for States to Label Genetically Modified Food

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Source: The Nation



Simple concept: people who consume food should have information about what's in their food.

And if foods contain genetically modified organisms, consumers surely have a right to know.

Who could disagree? Most senators, that's who.

While 64 countries around the world require labeling of foods with genetically engineered ingredients, while the American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Association have passed resolutions supporting this sort of labeling in the United States, the Senate voted 71-27 to keep Americans in the dark.

US Senator Bernie Sanders proposed an amendment to the federal farm bill that would have allowed states to require clear labels on any food or beverage containing ingredients that have been genetically modified. Sanders said, "I believe that when a mother goes to the store and purchases food for her child, she has the right to know what she is feeding her child."

Fearing lawsuits from multinational biotechnology, agribusiness and food production firms -- which also maintain some of the most efficient lobbying teams in Washington -- even states with long histories of consumer protection and right-to-know legislation have been cautious about introducing this sort of food labeling. The Sanders amendment addressed that threat, establishing a clear federal policy that states are allowed to require clear labels so that consumers know what they're eating.

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"Monsanto and other major corporations should not get to decide this, the people and their elected representatives should," said the independent senator from Vermont, where the state House recently voted 99-42 to call for labeling.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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