Just when you thought courage in Washington DC had died, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took to the Senate floor this morning and announced amendment #2310 to the Farm Bill to label genetically engineered foods.
Sanders, who is joined on this amendment by co-sponsor Barbara Boxer (D-CA), gave an historic speech from the Senate floor, repeating what Food Democracy Now! members have known for years, that Americans have a basic "right to know what they're eating and feeding their families".
Sanders historic speech was punctuated with painful facts about Americans being denied the Right to Know due to the powerful corporate interests of biotech chemical and seed giant Monsanto and other agricultural biotech companies. From the Senate floor, Sanders mentioned the most recent travesty to occur this spring in his own home state, when Vermont state legislators were threatened by Monsanto and other biotech bullies that the state would be sued if it passed a reasonable and common sense labeling law that informed Vermont citizens which foods they bought contain GMOs.
Sanders speech contained many facts reported by Food Democracy Now! about how:
- Nearly 50 countries around the world already allow GMO labeling.
- A recent Canadian study found that 93% of pregnant women contain the genetically engineered Bt toxin in their blood.
- Monsanto's Roundup tolerant GMOs have led to the rise of superweeds that now infest more than 10 million acres in 22 states - Predicted to reach 40 million acres by mid-decade.
In an impassioned plea to his fellow Senators, Sanders touched on the growing movement of citizens concerned about their what's in their food:
"All over this country, people are becoming more conscious about the foods they are eating and the foods they are serving to their kids, and this is certainly true for genetically-engineered foods," 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."
Sanders also rebutted Monsanto's and the biotech industry's favorite line saying "GMO food labels will not raise food prices."
Below is the text of the Sanders-Boxer Amendment:
SA 2310 - CONSUMERS RIGHT TO KNOW ABOUT GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD ACT.
SA 2310. Mr. SANDERS (for himself and Mrs. BOXER) submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by him to the bill S. 3240, to reauthorize agricultural programs through 2017, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:
On page 1009, after line 11, add the following:
SEC. 12207. CONSUMERS RIGHT TO KNOW ABOUT GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD ACT.
(a) Short Title.--This section may be cited as the ``Consumers Right to Know About Genetically Engineered Food Act''.
(b) Findings.--Congress finds that--
(1) surveys of the American public consistently show that 90 percent or more of the people of the United States want genetically engineered or modified foods to be labeled as such;
(2) a landmark public health study in Canada found that--
(A) 93 percent of pregnant women had detectable toxins from genetically engineered or modified foods in their blood; and
(B) 80 percent of the babies of those women had detectable toxins in their umbilical cords;
(3) the tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States clearly reserves powers in the system of Federalism to the States or to the people; and
(4) States have the authority to require the labeling of foods produced through genetic engineering or derived from organisms that have been genetically engineered.
(c) Definitions.--In this section:
(1) GENETIC ENGINEERING.--
(A) IN GENERAL.--The term ``genetic engineering'' means a process that alters an organism at the molecular or cellular level by means that are not possible under natural conditions or processes.
(B) INCLUSIONS.--The term ``genetic engineering'' includes--
(i) recombinant DNA and RNA techniques;
(ii) cell fusion;
(v) gene deletion and doubling;
(vi) introduction of a foreign gene; and
(vii) changing the position of genes.
(C) EXCLUSIONS.--The term ``genetic engineering'' does not include any modification to an organism that consists exclusively of--
(v) in vitro fertilization; or
(vi) tissue culture.
(2) GENETICALLY ENGINEERED AND GENETICALLY MODIFIED INGREDIENT.--The term ``genetically engineered and genetically modified ingredient'' means any ingredient in any food, beverage, or other edible product that--
(A) is, or is derived from, an organism that is produced through the intentional use of genetic engineering; or
(B) is, or is derived from, the progeny of intended sexual reproduction, asexual reproduction, or both of 1 or more organisms described in subparagraph (A).
(d) Right to Know.--Notwithstanding any other Federal law (including regulations), a State may require that any food, beverage, or other edible product offered for sale in that State have a label on the container or package of the food, beverage, or other edible product, indicating that the food, beverage, or other edible product contains a genetically engineered or genetically modified ingredient.
(e) Regulations.--Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Commissioner of Food and Drugs and the Secretary of Agriculture shall promulgate such regulations as are necessary to carry out this section.
(f) Report.--Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture, shall submit a report to Congress detailing the percentage of food and beverages sold in the United States that contain genetically engineered or genetically modified ingredients.