GMO Label Will Impact Every American

Food labels and GMO foods have been making headlines again as new legislation was introduced last week into Congress and today the Senate is expected to vote. Honestly, the headlines are misleading because this isn’t just a big food company nor a big agribusiness issue.

GMO food labeling will impact every single American. Our family-owned seed company will feel the effects, and U.S. farmers will have fewer seed options in every product guide. Mandatory food labels will impact American consumers, as well. Grocery bills are expected to increase by $1,050 annually for a family of four!

We spent National Ag Day on Capitol Hill, meeting with elected officials like Congressman David Young about issues of importance to the seed industry.

We spent National Ag Day on Capitol Hill, meeting with elected officials like Congressman David Young about issues of importance to the seed industry.

People who buy Wal-Mart brand products will be hit with even higher prices than they’re accustomed to paying since they’ll be forced to buy name brand, rather than the store brand, products. Executives from major supermarkets and Wal-Mart have already said they won’t carry their own private label foods in Vermont if that state’s GMO labeling law takes effect on July 1.

In an attempt to pre-empt the Vermont law – and to prevent additional states from enacting similar laws – yesterday my husband and I were among 55 seed industry representatives who made approximately 90 visits to congressional offices in Washington, D.C.

Our message to elected officials was clear: We support a uniform, national food labeling standard. Vote “no” for the alternative bill that was introduced last week to protect state-level GMO laws. This alternative bill is backed by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Vote “yes” to Senator Roberts’ bill, which would create a voluntary USDA labeling standard for GMO foods and prevent states from creating their own labeling standards.

Can you believe that day some elected officials yesterday actually said they don’t care if people are starving because they’re being denied GMO foods? They’d rather people starve than be “subjected to GMO foods.” (This sounds like American lawmakers are taking notes from Zimbabwe government officials who would rather see people starve than eat genetically modified foods.) Say what?! Not one person has died from eating GMO foods but about 2 million deaths could be prevented annually if Golden Rice were available to those living in poverty stricken countries!

If there are no known hazards —after 20+ years of study—and a host of benefits including lower food prices for Americans, why is there so much controversy around GMO food labels? I believe America’s food fights stem from “fear of the unknown.” Here’s what I’d like Americans to know:

  • Foods derived from GMO crops pose no threat to human health, and they’ve been studied by virtually every scientific and regulatory agency.
  • GMO crops also have a positive impact on the environment, allowing farmers to fight soil erosion by planting high-yield crops that grow more food on less land while using less water.
  • GMOs can improve the quality of life for Americans, as well as for people around the globe. Better life comes from science, innovation and caring hands. Better life begins with better seed.

P.S. I am not losing sleep over feeding my family foods derived from GMO crops, but I do have “Mommy Guilt” over not feeding my family enough fruits and vegetables. Click here for tips from a registered dietician on tips for making healthy food choices.