Is HR 1599 the SAFE Act or the DARK Act?

The SAFE act (Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act) or HR 1599 seeks to regulate labeling of GMOs. It recently passed the House and is currently in the Senate.  In this post, I’d like to explore the highlights of the bill and outline my thoughts on why some organizations are opposing it.I’ve read through the bill, the text of which you can find here, and I encourage you all to do the same.
The act does a few very important things at the Federal level:

  • Says that GMOs must be labeled if there is a difference in “functional, nutritional, or compositional characteristics”, including allergenicity, between the GMO and its conventional counterpart. It clarifies that just because something is a GMO, it doesn’t automatically make the food/ingredient/crop materially different.
  • States that it is unlawful to sell GMOs or food produced from GMOs that are unregulated (with exemptions, such as for research).
  • Declares that the Department of Agriculture will keep an online registry of all the non-regulated GMOs and their intended uses, petitions made regarding each GMO, and notifications of findings from the Secretary of Health and Human Resources regarding each GMO.
  • Creates a “National Genetically Engineered Food Certification Program” and establishes standards for labeling something as non-GMO. Interestingly, the certification is based on the supply chain process (i.e, look upstream from the final product to see if any ingredients derived from GMOs were used, as opposed to looking at the final product to determine if the protein or DNA from the GMO can be identified). It states that food given to livestock must be GMO-free in order for livestock products to be certified non-GMO. It also provides a list of exemptions. Additionally, it establishes an accreditation system whereby individuals can become certifying agents for the program.
  • Establishes guidelines for labeling products as genetically engineered. It expressly states that you can’t claim that a product is “better” or “safer” just because it’s a GMO. It also states that you can’t claim that a product is “better” or “safer” if it’s labeled as non-GMO.
  • Creates penalties and consequences for those who break the laws outlined in the act.
Image of US Capitol by Kevin McCoy, via Wikimedia Commons https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/18/Uscapitolindaylight.jpg
Image of US Capitol by Kevin McCoy, via Wikimedia Commons 

In a previous post on Biofortified, I outlined the difficulty inherent in state-level labeling: that there’s no definition for a GMO. I gave examples of how proposed labeling legislation in various states differed: “In Vermont, the labeling bill states that you don’t need to label if the amount of GM material makes up less than 0.9% of the total weight of processed food, but in California‘s proposed (and failed) bill the cutoff was set at 0.5%. Perhaps GMOs have more GMOiness in California so the state can’t handle as much of it. Colorado’s proposed (and failed) bill stated that chewing gum was exempt from labeling. In Colorado, Vermont, and California, alcoholic beverages were exempt, but I could find no such exemption in the bill from Connecticut.” The SAFE act addresses the issue by creating Federal standards. In that same post, I explained that the absence of a single definition for GMOs will give rise to multiple certification/verification labels, each claiming that their own definition of a GMO is the right one. Using the federal standards established in HR1599, this possibility evaporates because there will be a single Federal certification body.
However, the legislation has been re-branded as the DARK act (Deny Americans the Right to Know) by several activist groups. I checked the “Just Label It” campaign to see why they’re opposing it. Here are their reasons and my thoughts below:
  • Preempt states from requiring labeling of GMO food.
    The act expressly states that GMO foods must be labeled if they are materially different and puts that power into the hands of federal agencies. So the act does do away with state level labeling of GMO foods, but elucidates when labeling is needed. How does state level labeling make any sense? Why should it be possible for something to be labeled as a GMO in Colorado but not in Vermont? Wouldn’t that just highlight the arbitrary nature of the GMO-label?
  • Virtually eliminate FDA’s ability to craft a national GMO labeling system.
    No: the bill does exactly the opposite. It creates a labeling system and certifying bodies for non-GMOs. That’s still a labeling system, just not the system that most anti-GMO activists would like to see.
  • Codify the current, broken voluntary labeling system.
    Yes, it fixes the voluntary labeling system. What’s wrong with that?
  • Create a GMO “safety” review system based on industry science.
    Yes, and again, what’s wrong with that? Car manufacturers use industry science to show that their cars meet Federal guidelines/standards. The same goes for airplane manufacturers and crib manufacturers. Even clinical trials for drugs are carried out by the industry. Why would GMOs be the exception to the norm? If we want GMOs to be tested by government labs, then we should be prepared for a huge tax increase. I’m not saying this isn’t the way to go, but if we decide that government agencies should be responsible for the testing of all consumer products and drugs, then we have to be ready to bear the cost/burden.
  • Allow “natural” foods to contain GMO ingredients.
    There’s no true definition for “natural”. From my perspective, I don’t see how a transgenic Arctic Apple grown in an orchard under the beautiful sky in BC could be anything short of 100% natural. However, I’m sure many will disagree with my views, and our disagreement highlights the problem with the term “natural”.
According to some experts, making companies label GMOs is a violation of the 1st amendment. The amendment which protects freedom of speech, also makes it unlawful to force speech, and this freedom is extended to commercial speech. The limits of this commercial freedom of speech have been loosely outlined in a Supreme Court Case from 1985: “Commercial speech that is not false or deceptive and does not concern unlawful activities may be restricted only in the service of a substantial governmental interest, and only through means that directly advance that interest.” It’s on this basis that Vermont’s labeling law is being appealed in court. It’ll be interesting to see how that court case plays out. You can read more about some commercial first amendment cases here and here.
From my perspective, HR1599 is quite comprehensive: it establishes a clear definition for a GMO, it doesn’t venture into the possibility of violating the first amendment, it forces companies to label GMOs when needed, it creates a federal registry, and creates a new federal label for non-GMO with very stringent/exclusive definitions. The only aspect of GMO-labeling which I thought was missing from the Act was a cut-off for contamination: how much GMO material will be allowed in products labeled as non-GMO. Considering the fact that much of the equipment used during the harvest, storage, and transport of food is shared, trace amounts of GMO products will be found in non-GMO material, so this will have to be defined when the certification program is outlined and established.
I find it interesting that most groups that are denouncing HR1599 embrace the Non-GMO Project’s certification, when these two have adopted the same process-based definition for a GMO. The difference between the two is that the former provides a voluntary label for items that don’t have GMOs, whereas the end goal of the latter is the labeling of everything that has a GMO. In the end, I consider that it’s the same thing: I can assume that everything that isn’t labeled as “Kosher” is non-Kosher, and it’s simpler that way rather than forcing everything that is non-Kosher to be labeled as such. So why the backlash? Why the outcry?

Why is HR1599 Opposed?

In trying to understand why some groups would oppose this law, I stumbled on a letter that Ben & Jerry’s had written to the US House of Representatives about HR1599. As you may know, this ice cream company is one in the leaders in GMO labeling and last year they announced that they would be going GMO-free. In the letter, they state “As a Vermont-based company, we are particularly troubled that H.R. 1599 would preempt Vermont’s Act 120, which beginning in July of 2016, will require labeling of food products with GMO ingredients sold in Vermont. As a food company doing business in all 50 states, we’d prefer a national standard for mandatory GMO labeling, but absent that, we support states like Vermont passing legislation that ensures transparency and consumers’ right to know.” Their letter continues to outline the minimal cost that GMO labeling would pose by focusing on the fact that changing packaging is done routinely. The letter ignores the cost that would be associated with segregating GMO from non-GMO ingredients in the supply chain.
What I find interesting is that Ben and Jerry’s failed to mention that under HR1599, they would not be able to claim that they’re GMO-free. Ben and Jerry’s website has this extremely convenient definition for GMOs (I’ve added the emphasis): “…The fresh Vermont milk and cream that our family farmers supply to us is not organic. This means that in the US, it is common practice for the cows’ feed to contain GMO ingredients such as corn. Current regulations in most countries with mandatory GMO labeling requirements do not require milk to be labeled as GMO when derived from cows fed GMO feed. This is also consistent with proposed state-level legislation for GMO labeling, specifically dairy from cows fed GMO feed would not be required to be labeled as containing GMO ingredients. This is the current position that Ben & Jerry’s are adopting with regard to animal-derived ingredients. Under these regulations, this does not make the dairy genetically modified.”
In contrast, the definition of GMO-free in HR1599 states that cows must not be fed GM-grain for their products to be GMO-free: “in the case of a covered product derived from livestock that is marketed in the United States for human consumption, the covered product and the livestock, products consumed by such livestock, and products used in processing the products consumed by such livestock shall be produced without the use of products derived from genetic engineering”.
So Ben and Jerry’s supports a State law where it can claim that it’s products are GMO-free, but rejects a more stringent definition for GMOs at a Federal level. In my opinion, it’s because it would cost the company quite a bit of money to change their supply chain to comply with the Federal definition of GMO-free.
But what about other organizations? Why are they opposing the SAFE Act?

  • The Just Label It campaign is funded by companies that clearly benefit from forced GMO-labeling: the companies that fund the campaign include a long list of organic food companies/manufacturers.
  • The Non-GMO Project’s website explains their concern over HR1599 by stating: “The revised bill also includes a mandate for the USDA to create its own non-GMO certification program. While it won’t remove the Non-GMO Project Verified seal from the marketplace, the bill as written would create a competing label that would confuse shoppers and undermine the tremendous progress we’ve made on setting a high standard for GMO avoidance.” Not only would  HR1599 make the Non-GMO Project’s certification useless, but all the labs that are used by the Non-GMO Project for its certification would have to seek business elsewhere or seek federal contracts. That includes a company named Genetic ID, who is part-owned by Dr John Fagan, who is also on the Board of Directors for GMO Free USA. As such, GMO Free USA also opposes the DARK Act.
  • Most organizations that oppose the SAFE act believe that GMOs should be labeled due to alleged health risks or claims that GMOs are nutritionally different from their non-GMO counterparts. Exploring this topic is far beyond the scope of this post, but in summary, I have not yet read a well designed and executed paper demonstrating harm. Many papers claiming that GMOs cause a negative health impact have been reviewed on Biofortified. If there is a specific paper whose content you would like to discuss and has not been explored, please comment below and I’ll try to review it.

Celebrities Opposing the DARK Act

The “Just Label It” campaign enlisted help from Gwyneth Paltrow to help drive their message. Recently, more celebrities were enlisted to create a video against HR1599. I’ll be honest: the video hurt me. It starred Sarah Michelle Gellar, otherwise known as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a TV show of which I’m a pretty big fan. Like a stake through my heart, she joined other celebrities and voiced lines from the “Just Label It” campaign. In my despair over what I considered to be Ms Gellar’s betrayal of her awesomeness, I joined a group of talented, brilliant women (who are also moms) in writing a letter to the celebrities explaining why GMOs are an important agricultural tool that can benefit our society.  Dr Anastasia Bodnar, co-editor for Biofortified, wrote about our #Moms4GMOs campaign here. Feel free to review our letter and you can add your signature to it as well.

Written by Layla Katiraee

Layla Katiraee is a human molecular geneticist working as a development scientist in DNA sequencing. She has a PhD in human molecular genetics from the University of Toronto, and is currently studying applied bioinformatics at Penn State.

64 comments

  1. Either this is super-good (what I think) or my confirmation bias has taken complete control of my brain:-) Question: would citizens still support mandatory GMO labeling if they knew the true picture of the financial web supporting all the state and national labelling efforts? And the funding of every single anti-GMO NGO? That would mean clear answers to the question “Who Benefits?” from the FOIA attacks on public scientists. Is Labeling Really About Our “Right to Know”?

  2. « Preempt states from requiring labeling of GMO food. »
    I think the answer is « yes », not « no ».

  3. Oh, funny–I didn’t know Ben and Jerry were playing the shell game on the labels for their milk. I know they’ve also admitted it costs more to be non-GMO. But hey, no expense spared for snack food for the well-fed!

    1. Do you have any idea on what people expect from the no-GMO label?
      I think it is funny but the issue reminds me of your kosher post.

      1. Oh, yeah, but I hadn’t realized that their opposition to HR1599 was so self-serving. I guess I’m just stunned sometimes by such naked hypocrisy.

    2. The summary of the bill, per the link provided above, states: “A food can be labeled as non-GMO even if it is produced with a GMO processing aid or enzyme or derived from animals fed GMO feed or given GMO drugs.” Am I lost in a host of double negatives or does this mean that B & J can still call their stuff non-GMO?

          1. From that news article I just provided, I thought that this was interesting: “The requirement for the use of non-biotech feed in non-GMO milk was the result of negotiations with the organic industry, said Chuck Conner, president of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. “We have attempted to get the broadest possible interest in food and agriculture behind us as we possibly can,” he said.”

          2. So the organics are hoist by their own petard? Also interesting to allow the FDA to define “natural”.

  4. The whole notion of “GMO” seems to be a legalistic, rather than a valid scientific distinction. Layla, could you summarize how this bill defines the term? Does it anticipate future potential methods for modifying genes?

    1. “(ss) The term ‘bioengineered organism’ refers to an organism if—
      “(1) the organism is a plant (or a seed, a fruit, or any other part thereof);
      “(2) the organism contains genetic material that has been modified through in vitro recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) techniques; and
      “(3) the modification could not otherwise be obtained using conventional breeding techniques.”.

  5. I think we need a RTKIA campaign; Right to Know it All. Think of the memes. Pictures of a packaged steak covered with non-halal, non-kosher, non-vegan, non-vegetarian, non-piscatarian, non-macrobiotic and every other belief based dietary restriction that could apply.

      1. Like organic and non-GMO are labeled for those who want to avoid GMO? Why should your belief based dietary restrictions be granted a label and not the others?

        1. No belief based anything. No “non” anything.
          No claims.
          Just facts about what it is, how it was made and where it came from.
          Wouldn’t that simify the whole thing? Wouldn’t that be the easiest thing to do? Wouldn’t thy solve everything both now and in the future?

          1. The organic and non-GMO labels are similar to vegan, halal or kosher labels. They all identify foods that are produced in accordance to a variety of dietary restrictions. If you want to slap on a GMO label in order to exclude some food products to suit your dietary preferences, why shouldn’t vegans have the same opportunity to have a non-vegan label on everything that they want to avoid? What makes your right to know so special that you would belong to the only group that has labeling both ways?

          2. They wouldn’t need a label.
            If it were to contain meat or dairy or if it were made via a process that involved animals or dairy it would be labeled as such.
            If it did not contain such a label, they could rest assured that it did not contain such things.
            If it was halal it would be labeled “halal”. If it was not labeled as “halal” it would not be halal.
            If it was kosher it would be labeled “kosher”. If it was not labeled as “kosher” it would not be kosher.
            Jeez, it’s so simple.

          3. No, not so simple.
            Then we label things as they are not.
            Then we get “non-GMO water” and “non-GMO salt”.
            Then we get the non-GMO project.
            Then we get (in your own words) “Pictures of a packaged steak covered with non-halal, non-kosher, non-vegan, non-vegetarian, non-piscatarian, non-macrobiotic and every other belief based dietary restriction that could apply.”

          4. Exactly. I’m glad that you agree that labeling for GMO could lead to that ridiculous scenario of a label duplication on that steak for every dietary preference.

          5. You misread or misunderstood.
            Labeling things as they are: simple, no confusion.
            Labeling things as they are not: not simple, lot’s of confusion

          6. So you want to do away with the organic and non-GMO labels. You might have some push back from the organic industry over that.

          7. Yes. Do away with the non-GMO labels for sure. No more “non-GMO project” or whatever they call themselves.
            There will always be push back when you cut into someone’s profits.
            We need to be adults and find the easiest, least costly way of doing things when the tax payer foots the bill.
            I think “organic” covers more than just GMO, but I’m not sure.
            The only thing I really am against is how much influence money has over everything. I think this is the rot in our society.
            I wish people would act and speak from more virtuous attributes such as wisdom and compassion. We talk a lot about how important these things are but we don’t walk the walk.
            We need to be fearless.

  6. What a load of mumbo jumbo BS. Typical when laws and articles are written for the benefit of industry instead of ordinary people.
    I want a label because I want to avoid any product that supports this corrupt industry.
    They bribe scientists, they bribe government, they bribe the media, they pay astro turfers to troll comment sections, they have PR firms, they have lobbyists, they lie and they cheat.
    They contribute to the greatest health crisis in the U.S. Their food tastes like shit to boot.
    This industry causes harm.

    1. Absolutely! The exemptions that we see in State level labeling laws suggest that they were driven by lobbying groups in each of those states: Vermont wouldn’t want cheese/dairy labeled, California wouldn’t want wine labeled, etc.
      And yes, many customers complained about the change in flavor when Ben & Jerry’s ice cream went “non-GMO”, I can’t blame you for not enjoying the taste (see the end of this article: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/06/15/ben-and-jerrys-says-goodbye-to-gmos/10542275/).
      I also understand wanting the non-GMO label to avoid the products. Personally, I don’t purchase items with the non-GMO label, particularly when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Costco has bags of cucumbers that are labeled non-GMO, which I find disingenuous since there aren’t GMO cucumbers in existence. But I also understand that people want that choice, and value living in a country where there’s a variety of products for everyone.

      1. I agree.
        It’s complicated but not impossible to get what you think is “good”. And we have much to be thankful for (far more than most).
        It’s just sad that we need to navigate through all the BS special interest double speak.
        It’s sad that we can’t trust scientists, our journalists or our elected officials.
        One good thing is that we can learn much from all of this.
        What is it that would make someone sell out their profession and people’s trust for money?
        Is it fear? Is it gluttony? Is it just laziness (sloth)?
        How do these people sleep at night when they know what they are doing is sleazy and immoral?
        The bad example of these unethical scumbags have taught me much about life.

        1. I am asking the same questions myself quite regularly. I believe that the only answer is that most of those are just convinced that they on the moral high ground and only their opponents are unethical.

          1. Sounds about right to me.
            We don’t get much training in ethics in our current education system.
            More important is that our society is literally built around greed.
            Its crucial for our consumerism economy and it leads to just this sort of conflict of interests.
            Religions could and should help us find our moral compass but they seem to have been hijacked as well.

  7. The problem with Pompeo’s GMO labelling law is that is seeks to impose – for the first time ever in American – a European-style threshold limit on GMO content in organic food. This will make it possible – again, for the first time ever in American – for organic farmers to sue their GMO neighbors if their organic crops lose their certification due to GMO “contamination” above that threshold level.
    At present, there is no such thing as GMO contamination in Canada, Australia, India or America. Pompeo’s law creates a definition for GMO contamination even though there is no science to back it up.
    I’m kind of surprised Layla missed this.

    1. Hi Not Mischa,
      I didn’t see any specifics on the amount of GMO content that would be acceptable in organics specified in HR1599. I’d appreciate it if you could please point me to where this is stipulated.
      My understanding is that the USDA does conduct regular residue testing looking for prohibited substances, and as part of that, it checks for GMOs. As you point out, there’s no cutoff on the amount of GMO that can be found (http://blogs.usda.gov/2013/05/17/organic-101-can-gmos-be-used-in-organic-products/). So if this were to change, I agree that it would be an interesting turn of events!

        1. The article says “As to what the maximum permissible level will be, it’s pretty clear the European threshold of 0.9 percent will be adopted”. I don’t see why that’s pretty clear. Most of the article you’re referencing seems to be speculation.

  8. There is no “right to know” defined in the US Constitution. But if we want to pretend for a moment that this was merely oversight on the part of the framers, consider the consequences.
    The founders were of the belief that civil rights are inherent in us as individuals. The First Amendment does not grant the right of free speech to the people, but restricts the power of government to infringe on it. We are born with this right to free speech and it is unalienable.
    By extension, if a right to know exists, then it exists in each of us as individuals from birth. If some individuals have a legitimate and intrinsic right to know if their food was produced using genetic engineering, then I have an equally legitimate intrinsic right to demand labels on all foods produced using animal fecal matter. Or improved with mutagenesis. Or any other arbitrary fact about the production that I wish to know. Because it’s my right! There is no further justification needed. I can require that every manufacturer of every product I have no intention of buying puts labels on their products, to satisfy my right.
    A right is not something that only takes effect when you can get enough people together to pass legislation. Whatever you want to call that, it isn’t an inherent right.
    Of course the FDA already requires disclosure of ingredients and nutrition information. I already exercise the ability to make an informed choice by reading ingredient labels. The people who are demanding a right to know what is in their food apparently can’t read the existing labels which very clearly state *what* is in the food.
    What rights do consumers actually have? I submit that if there is a missing protection in the Bill of Rights, it is the right to preferentially do business with those merchants who meet our needs for further information. I stand firmly behind the right of people to buy foods labeled to meet their needs, such as with Non-GMO Project, USDA organic, Fair Trade, Kosher, Halal, etc.
    The wonderful thing about voluntary negative labeling of the Non-GMO project is that it meets consumers’ needs to make an informed choice, while not infringing on the rights of free speech which are clearly protected by the Bill of Rights.

  9. Yes, most of the 1st few provisions are good, but, they already are the
    law!
    Secondly, it permanently imposes an extraordinary cost (ie barrier)
    on a selected technology based on process vs product. The 100th Bt
    gene would need the same testing as the first. There are no provisions for familiarity.
    Thirdly, as in Europe, only plants are GM, while GM microorganisms
    are excluded. What is the rationale?
    Fourthly, they have removed the NEPA exclusion that was in the 1992
    guidance. That means that each FDA approval could be subject to a
    complete Environmental Risk Assessment or face a lawsuit.
    Here is some alternative language that has been proposed, and
    that I strongly endorse. It is all that is needed.
    “In accordance with Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the
    Constitution, this Act reaffirms that authority over the content and
    format of mandatory food labels in these United States is the
    responsibility and sole province of the Food and Drug
    Administration; States are hereby and forever permanently preempted
    from meddling in this arena.”
    Furthermore, the language is really sloppy, and will undoubtedly end
    up in court for a judge to interpret.
    For one, it states that no GM plant product can be on the interstate
    market unless the Secretary of HHS has issued a certificate that
    *all* safety questions have been answered.
    1) A court could interpret that to mean that current products need
    to be re-approved
    2) All questions are never answered. Opposed groups always have
    more questions. What will happen in 20 years? Will it alter bird
    migratory routes? Will it constipate guinea pigs? I am not
    inventing these– all have been raised in the past.
    3) It stipulates that the final decision rests with the Sec of HHS
    and the sec of USDA. In many ways, that is already the case, but it
    has been handled by expert assessors rather than by the Secretaries,
    who are first and foremost politicians. In other words, it is a
    step towards the Europeans process, where EFSA (the FDA equivalent) is only advisory, and
    the final decision is made by politicians, which inevitably leads to
    road block.
    Overall, I see few redeeming qualities to this bill as written.

  10. Having read the text of the bill, I don’t agree that would require GMO food to be labeled — at least not in the way that the labeling debate is currently framed.
    The bill requires that the specific material difference (be it functional, nutritional, or otherwise) be stated on the food label. This can easily be done without explicitly stating that the food is genetically engineered.

    1. Hi Will,
      The bill requires mandatory labeling if the crop is materially different (as you point out, a difference in nutrition, allergenicity, etc. The fact that a crop is transgenic is not sufficient to be categorized as “materially different”). Otherwise, it establishes a system for voluntary labeling.

      1. That’s right. I don’t see anything about this bill that should satisfy the demands of the pro-labeling movement, though.
        They want labels that identify *all* GMO foods. Establishing a system for voluntary labeling does not achieve this goal. A labeling requirement that only applies to GM crops that are materially different also does not achieve this goal. Negative labeling (i.e. labeling of non-GMO foods) still does not achieve this goal. They will view these points as red herrings which distract from the real debate.
        Even for materially different GM foods that are required to carry this label, a consumer would not necessarily know that it was genetically engineered. For all they know, the material difference might have been produced as a result of some non-GMO method.
        To me, this bill makes a lot of sense. But it’s not surprising that GMO labeling advocates don’t want it, since it doesn’t advance their core demand. (In fact, it may hinder it by saying that FDA cannot categorically require GMOs to be labeled + this bill supercedes state laws that would require it.)

        1. Agreed: HR1599 isn’t the labeling that labeling-proponents want. But that’s why the blurb I wrote about the 1st amendment is an important one. Any labeling law would be taken to court as a violation of free commercial speech. It’s my personal opinion that the pro-labeling movement would have to convince the court that GMOs have a negative health impact and demand labeling on this basis, otherwise “right to know” on its own isn’t a real right as Mike Lewinski outlined in his comment (http://www.biofortified.org/2015/09/thesafeact/#comment-2251230142).
          Of course, a new law or an amendment could be added for “right to know”, but where do you draw the line or the define the boundaries of such a law/amendment?
          That leaves legislators with the ability to pass a voluntary law for labeling or negative labeling, which is exactly what HR1599 does.

      2. Greedy corporate-funded, lobbyist-diluted, political double speak for we are going to do what it takes to make sure we don’t see a drop in our profits no matter the cost to efficiency, common sense, public interests or reality.
        Just like how the attorney general can double speak our country into the torture business.
        Just like how the banks can double speak their crooked gambling into law and cover their loses with our tax money.
        It’s not magic, they are not the oracle, and it’s clearly rigged to benefit the few over the many.
        If it’s made via the process of genetic modification then label it as such.

      3. Are gene drive systems being developed for AG crops?
        Are nano technologies being incorporated into GE crop development?
        If so, would this not constitute ‘materially different’? Would these new techniques have comprehensive toxicology questions answered enough for ‘due diligence’?

        1. Hi Ray,
          Could you please clarify what you mean by “nano technologies”?
          I don’t think that a promoter would make a crop materially different. My understanding is if the variety has a difference in the amount of nutrients/minerals, then it would need to be labeled. That’s why I’m very curious to see what will happen with the Innate potato since it’s designed to have different levels of asparagine (http://www.biofortified.org/2013/05/qa-with-haven-baker-innate-potatoes/).
          Yes, transgenics have had a gene and its protein added. But there are hundreds of differences in the amount/presence/absence of proteins between different varieties of the same crop across the country, yet we label/list them as the same ingredient. To quote Marc Brazeau: “corn is corn” (http://skeptiforum.org/2014/04/06/marc-brazeaus-500-words-when-the-food-movement-does-not-move/). This is why apple pie just has “apple” listed as an ingredient, and canned corn just says “corn”, rather than listing the exact variety that the farmer planted.

  11. I’m so glad these poor corporations have these rights they so richly deserve. It’s not nearly enough they can spend unlimited amounts of money to sway our government!
    How dare anyone trample on their right to free speech with demands they tell us what is going on with the food they are serving us!!
    We have to keep up the fight for these innocent immortal institutions who suffer so much at the hands of regular individuals.
    Thank you supreme court and you Layla for keeping up the fight to ensure these corporations get what they deserve!
    Reclaim democracy: http://reclaimdemocracy.org/

      1. Free speech is whatever we decide it is.
        If you think it means that a company can’t legally be forced to tell its customers that they use certain processes to make food that’s perfectly fine by me.
        I will just never buy anything from that company ever again.
        But it’s also fine that I think that situation is rediculous and that it is a perversion of the law.

        1. Your first sentence is pretty much self-refuting.
          Second paragraph – yes, that is precisely the case, always has been. Nobody compels organic food to anounce it’s organic, or kosher. Nobody compels food producers to tell you what breed of cow their beef comes from, or how it was raised. Nobody compel them to tell you what farming methods were used for produce and grains. Whether fertilizers were used or if compost was used. Nobody compels them to tell you if F1 hybrid crops were used, or only open-pollinated; how it was harvested. Trade secrets are all over the place. The regulators that you wish could be non-scientist bureaucrats, assure that of all of the options possible, that they are all safe.
          You will find yourself hard-pressed to buy anything if you want 100% compelled disclosure on process used to make the products.
          You are imagining a right and a law that do not exist, therefore cannot be perverted.

          1. That’s why I’ve started to grow my own food. It’s cheaper, healthier, tastes better and I have more control.
            I don’t want to eat trade secrets or untested chemicals or food that was processed too much.

          2. “The process of living seems to consist in coming to realize truths so ancient and simple that, if stated, they sound like barren platitudes.” -C. S. Lewis

          3. …He says as he types on a machine that would never have been invented, powered by a power source that wouldn’t exist in a agrarian subsistence society where everybody is forced to spend the vast majority of their time trying to keep themselves and their family from starving.
            Your context detector must still be busted. You’re completely misusing this quote.

          4. Twisting around people’s words in order to try and score points in a conversation is the true misuse.
            Who said we would have to live like cavemen in order to make simple things like honesty and simplicity our main goals?

          5. I think that most of human history – much of which was spent with the majority of humanity on the verge of starvation – was spent in subsitence. Just trying to get by. Getting feed and surviving is priority 1. When that takes up the majority of everybody’s time, we don’t get to do much else. We would not have invented much of what we have now.
            Not twisting your words to say that the stone age is what you’re utopia looks like, but pointing out that it’s what you’d get.
            The modern day rich, well fed white-people fascination with a romanticized version of peasant farming is truly absurd. People lost kids on a regular basis and died early. People starved because of a small-localized frost or drought.
            For the record, I grow a large garden and eat a lot of my own food. I don’t want to ever have to do it to make sure my kids don’t die.

          6. I am living my “utopia” right now! I have everything I need right now. I spend most of my time in shear joy and gratitude for the wonderful things all around me.
            It’s because I understand that this is all there is and this is enough. It’s because I know that everything is temporary and, as such, I should not have strong attachments to them. Love the good stuff as much as you can because it will be gone soon, don’t stress about the bad stuff because it too will be gone soon.
            It’s fun to imagine a world where everyone felt this way. Would there be war and starvation?

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