Good news – but action is needed

 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced it is revoking the registration of “Enlist Duo,” a toxic herbicide developed to be used with genetically engineered “Agent Orange” crops!

The agency approved this combination of glyphosate and 2, 4-D (one of the main ingredients in Agent Orange) just over a year ago, to be used on genetically engineered crops designed to withstand this potent herbicide cocktail. But after being challenged in court, the EPA has stated that it realized that the combination of these chemicals is likely significantly more harmful than it had initially believed.

This decision means that the Agent Orange crops will not be widely planted this spring, relieving the fears of many non-GMO farmers who could have seen their crops wiped out by herbicide drift.

But, even as we celebrate this good news, Monsanto, Dow, and their Big Food allies are working on a new, underhanded approach to hide information about GMOs.

Recognizing that the “Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK)” Act that they pushed through the House of Representatives is likely dead in the Senate, they’re offering a “compromise” piece of legislation. It would require GMO labels on food products, but ONLY if they’re hidden in QR codes (which take a smart phone to decipher) on the back of a product.

This plan still would still overturn the GMO labeling laws already democratically passed in Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine — and bar future state labeling laws.

Have you ever used a QR code? If you haven’t, you’re not alone. Less than 20% of the U.S. population has ever used one.

The stakes just got even higher, because on November 19, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Aquabounty’s genetically engineered salmon – the first-ever GMO animal to be approved for human consumption. This decision threatens the survival of our native salmon populations and could have unknown health impacts on humans.

If Monsanto and the biotech industry get their way, this legislation would keep us in the dark about this GMO salmon – as well as corn, soy, canola, sugar, squash, and all the GMO crops and animals they have in the pipeline.

Tell your U.S. Senators to oppose this dangerous affront to our right to know what’s in our food!

 

TAKE ACTION

Call or email both of your U.S. Senators to urge them to oppose any bill that pre-empts state laws for labeling GMOs.

You can look up who your Senators are and find their contact information at http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Here’s a sample script for a call:

Hi, my name is ___, and I am a constituent. I urge Senator _____ to vote against any bill that would overturn state laws on mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.

The use of a bar code or QR code is not a valid substitute for mandatory labels. Over a third of all Americans don’t even own smartphones and could not read such codes. And many of those who own smartphones are not familiar with QR code and wouldn’t even know that the information was available.

Moreover, QR codes are extremely burdensome for consumers. With on-package labeling, you can quickly find the information you need on the package – simple, fast, and practical. Under the industry’s proposal, the shopper needs to pull out his or her smartphone (while still holding the package of food), open up an app, wait for the camera to focus on the bar code, wait for a webpage to load, and then search the website for the relevant information.
There’s no real benefit to QR codes, since food manufacturers will still have to track which products have GMO ingredients. The real reason industry is pushing for QR codes instead of physical labels is to continue to keep the majority of consumers in the dark about what they’re eating.

 

We have a right to know what is in our food so that we can make educated decisions about the food we eat. The free market can only work when consumers have the information they need to make informed choices among different products. Without mandatory on-package labeling, consumers are effectively being defrauded.

I urge Senator ___ to vote against any bill that would block state laws for mandatory physical labeling of GMO foods.

 

A phone call is more effective than an email. If you do send an email, please replace the opening few lines with your own personalized message – personal messages have more impact than form emails.

You can also download our fact sheet on the House version of the bill (which did not include QR codes, but was otherwise similar) at http://farmandranchfreedom.org/hr-1599-fact-sheet/ to send as an attachment to your email, or as a follow up to your call.

 

MORE INFORMATION

Good news has been rare in the fight against GMOs, but the EPA’s latest announcement is definitely a major victory.

The agency approved the “Enlist Duo” — a combination of glyphosate and 2, 4-D, one of the main ingredients in Agent Orange — just over a year ago, to be used on genetically engineered crops designed to withstand this potent herbicide cocktail. The EPA now states that it has received new evidence from Dow, indicating that the combination of these chemicals is likely significantly more harmful than it had initially believed.

Why was it developed in the first place? Because the biotech companies ignored the basic principles of science and evolution when they developed “Roundup Ready” crops, genetically engineered to resist the herbicide, so farmers can spray the fields during the growing season and kill the weeds while leaving crops unharmed.

The biotech companies assumed that weeds would not become resistant to glyphosate even if it was repeatedly sprayed on a widespread basis year after year. But, as was predicted by independent scientists, we now face an epidemic of “superweeds” that can withstand repeated glyphosate applications.

The logical response would be to recognize that herbicide-resistant crops are not a solution, and to work on better ways to address weed control. But that doesn’t make as much money as patented seeds and herbicide cocktails. So Dow created Enlist crops, designed to resist both glyphosate and 2,4-D, in the hopes that the combination would be more effective. But some weeds have already developed 2,4-D resistance, and basic science tells us that the new GMOP crops, dubbed “Agent Orange” crops, will simply cause the same destructive cycle of increasing herbicide resistant weeds.

Although 2,4-D is already used on some crops, the approval of the Enlist Duo would have increased its use dramatically. Corn and soybeans – the crops engineered to be used with Enlist — are the nation’s largest crops, and many non-GMO farmers have been scared that the widespread use of the 2,4-D mixture would destroy their crops.

EPA’s decision to revoke the approval means that Enlist Duo, which is currently on the market, won’t be in wide use for plantings next spring.

Caveats: Some farmers are already in possession of Enlist, and it’s unclear whether or not they will be able to use it. And EPA hasn’t closed the door to re-approving Enlist in the future, with increased requirements for buffer zones or other restrictions on its use.

Even with those caveats, the decision by EPA to withdraw the illegally approved Enlist Duo crops is a huge victory for our farmers and the future of our food!

 

Now for the bad news: despite insufficient testing and the vocal opposition of hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens, the FDA just approved the GMO AquaBounty salmon.

GMO salmon poses potential health risks to people who eat it, and sets a terrible precedent for approval of future GMO animals. This GMO fish could also decimate native fish populations and wreak havoc on our ecosystems. What’s worse, it will be unlabeled on grocery store shelves, so consumers won’t be able to avoid it when they shop.

A few reasons why approving GMO salmon is a terrible idea:

  • It’s been genetically engineered to produce growth hormones year-round, but there’s been no real testing about what these increased levels of hormones will mean for the people consuming them.
  • The FDA used the fiction that the genetically engineered salmon was actually a “drug,” so that public participation in the approval process was severely limited.
  • The FDA’s lax approval process included reviewing an AquaBounty study that only examined six salmon – which nonetheless showed a 20 to 50 percent increased allergenic potency.
  • GMO salmon posed a threat to wild fish populations. Academic scientists found that GMO salmon readily breed with a different species of fish. And since they grow so fast, the non-GMO wild fish could easily be outcompeted and become extinct.
  • Canadian government scientists also found that AquaBounty’s salmon are more susceptible to disease-causing bacteria, which means that they will most likely be fed even more antibiotics than typical farmed fish, threatening the health of those who eat them and the continued efficacy of these antibiotics to treat human disease.
  • They won’t even be labeled. This product will be hitting store shelves without a mandatory labeling requirement, so concerned consumers won’t even be able to choose whether or not they’re eating it.

 

The public outcry delayed the FDA approval of GMO salmon for several years, but the agency finally caved to the industry. This is disappointing, but not surprising.

 

We can win the fight against GMOs, but it will take a lot of people and a lot of work. Thank you for speaking up and being part of this effort!