Food Safety Yes, Government Coverups No
Kucinich Introduces Bills to Label Genetically Engineered Food and Protect Consumers
Scientists, consumers, food safety groups, free market advocates, children's safety groups, and property rights supporters all want a responsible government policy on genetically engineered (GE) foods.
July 28, 2003
Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) has introduced several bills that would halt the systematic government collusion with lobbyists and pharmaceutical corporations. The bills would promote a free market in GE foods by requiring that their ingredients be labeled so that consumers can make an informed choice; would insist on corporate liability for contaminating GE-free materials with GE products; and would protect private property rights by ensuring that corporations cannot contaminate GE-free lands without consequences.
"This is a basic consumer safety issue," stated Kucinich. "People have a right to know what is in the food they are eating, and that the food is safe. That is the goal of these bills. It is well past time that Congress change current food safety and environmental laws because the laws were not written with this technology in mind."
SUMMARY OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD LEGISLATION
H.R. 2916 - THE GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD RIGHT TO KNOW ACT OF 2003
Consumers wish to know whether the food they purchase and consume is a GE food. Concerns include the potential transfer of allergens into food and other health risks, potential environmental risks associated with the genetic engineering of crops, and religiously and ethically based dietary restrictions. Adoption and implementation of mandatory labeling requirements for GE food produced in the United States would facilitate international trade. This bill acknowledges consumers have a right to know what GE foods they are eating:
* Requires food companies to label all foods that contain GE material and requires the FDA to ensure compliance with testing. Voluntary, non-GE food labels are also permitted.
* A legal framework is established to ensure the accuracy of labeling without creating significant economic hardship on the food production system.
Cosponsors: Sanders (VT); DeFazio (OR); Lee (CA); Conyers (MI); Olver (MA); Miller (CA); Honda (CA); Acevedo-Vila (PR); Brown (OH); Gutierrez (IL); Nadler (NY); Owens (NY); Velazquez (NY); Waters (CA); Watson (CA); Woolsey (CA); Kleczka (WI)
H.R. 2917 - THE GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD SAFETY ACT OF 2003
Given the consensus among the scientific community that genetic engineering can potentially introduce hazards, such as allergens or toxins, GE foods need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The possibility of such hazards dictates a cautious approach to GE food approvals. However, FDA has glossed over the food safety concerns of GE foods. This bill requires that all GE foods follow a strenuous food safety review process:
* Requires FDA to screen all GE foods through the current food additive process to ensure they are safe for human consumption including a public comment period of at least 30 days.
* Requires that unique concerns be explicitly examined in the review process, a phase out of antibiotic resistance markers, and a prohibition on known allergens.
Cosponsors: DeFazio (OR); Sanders (VT); Lee (CA); Conyers (MI); Olver (MA); Miller (CA); Honda (CA); Acevedo-Vila (PR); Gutierrez (IL); Nadler (NY); Owens (NY); Velazquez (NY); Waters (CA); Watson (CA); Woolsey (CA)
H.R. 2918 - THE GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CROP AND ANIMAL FARMER PROTECTION ACT OF 2003
Agribusiness and biotech companies have consolidated market power at the same time as the average farmer's profits and viability have significantly declined. Policies promoted by biotech corporations have systematically acted to remove basic farmer rights. These policies include unreasonable seed contracts, the intrusion into everyday farm operations, and liability burdens. This bill provides several farmer rights and protections to maintain the opportunity to farm:
* Farmers may save seeds and seek compensation for failed GE crops.
* Biotech companies may not: shift liability to farmers; nor require access to farmer's property; nor mandate arbitration; nor mandate court of jurisdiction; nor require damages beyond actual fees; or charge more to American farmers than they charge farmers in other nations.
* Seed companies must: ensure seeds labeled non-GE are accurate; provide clear instructions to reduce cross-pollination; and inform farmers of the risks of using GE crops.
* EPA is required to take action to prevent resistance to Bt, an important organic pesticide.
* The bill prohibits genetic engineering designed to produce sterile seeds.
Cosponsors: DeFazio (OR); Sanders (VT); Lee (CA); Conyers (MI); Olver (MA); Gutierrez (IL); Nadler (NY); Owens (NY); Velazquez (NY); Waters (CA); Watson (CA); Woolsey (CA); Acevedo-Vila (PR)
H.R. 2919 - THE GENETICALLY ENGINEERED ORGANISM LIABILITY ACT OF 2003
Biotech companies are selling a technology that is being commercialized far in advance of the new science of genetic engineering. Farmers may suffer from crop failures. Neighboring farmers may suffer from cross-pollination, increased insect resistance, and unwanted "volunteer" GE plants. Therefore, biotech companies should be found liable for the failures of GE crops:
* The bill places all liability from negative impacts of GE organisms squarely upon the biotechnology companies that created the GE organism.
* Farmers are granted indemnification to protect them from the liabilities of GE crops.
Cosponsors: DeFazio (OR); Sanders (VT); Lee (CA); Conyers (MI); Olver (MA); Acevedo-Vila (PR); Gutierrez (IL); Nadler (NY); Owens (NY); Velazquez (NY); Waters (CA); Watson (CA); Woolsey (CA)
H.R. 2921 - THE GENETICALLY ENGINEERED PHARMACEUTICAL AND INDUSTRIAL CROP SAFETY ACT OF 2003
A pharmaceutical crop or industrial crop is a plant that has been genetically engineered to produce a medical or industrial product. The new products are for medical or industrial purposes only and are not intended for the food supply or released into the environment. However, experts acknowledge that contamination of our food is inevitable due to the inherent imprecision of biological and agricultural systems. Contamination by pharmaceutical crops and industrial crops pose substantial liability and economic risks to farmers, grain handlers, and food companies.
* The bill places a temporary moratorium on pharmaceutical crops and industrial crops until all regulations required in this bill are in effect.
* The bill places a permanent moratorium on pharmaceutical crops and industrial crops grown in an open-air environment and on pharmaceutical crops and industrial crops grown in a commonly used food source.
* The USDA shall establish a tracking system to regulate the growing, handling, transportation, and disposal of all pharmaceutical and industrial crops to prevent contamination.
* The National Academy of Sciences shall issue a report that explores alternatives methods to produce pharmaceuticals or industrial chemicals that do not present the risk of contamination.
Cosponsors: DeFazio (OR); Sanders (VT); Lee (CA); Conyers (MI); Gutierrez (IL); Nadler (NY); Owens (NY); Velazquez (NY); Waters (CA); Watson (CA); Woolsey (CA)
Be sure to see Fred Foldvary's editorial on Genetically Manipulated Food
How many members of Congress support a free market and corporate responsibility? Would you? Do American children deserve food that is less safe than food eaten by European children? Share your views with The Progress Report:
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