Anastasoa Bodnar alerted me on Twitter to the following amendment to the Farm Bill which would have authorized states to require the labeling of genetically modified foods. As I’ve said before, I’m not opposed to providing consumers with accurate information about what they’re eating (emphases on accurate). But I am saddened to see this amount of scientific misinformation reach the US Senate, including references to bogus and/or irrelevant studies and a evident lack of understanding of the technology and its value. It didn’t pass, but here’s the text:
SA 2256. 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;
First of all, several people have pointed out that the methods used in this study are not reliable. But even if they were, there is no evidence that the the natural bacterial insecticide in question has any negative effects on people. This is just alarmist nonsense being passed off as justification for legislation.
(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.
Here’s some other things that alter an organism at the molecular and cellular level by means that are not possible under natural conditions or processes: fertilization, weeding, ploughing, mechanical irrigation…
(B) INCLUSIONS.–The term “genetic engineering” includes–
(i) recombinant DNA and RNA techniques;
(ii) cell fusion;
No idea what this has to do with GMOs.
(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.
Because that’s possible under natural conditions….
(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.