As Oregon, Washington, California, Maui, and Vermont have all struggled against the biotech behemoths to get GMO labeling laws to pass, each with varying success, a surprising advocate for the cause has turned up in Indiana. Here is yet another state that may soon represent the people who want to know what they’re eating.
Under the newly proposed legislation, which was introduced by Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn companies would be required to label foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients. The senator has included verbiage in his bill that would also prohibit companies from using the term ‘natural’ to define its genetically altered food. Anyone who violated the law, should it pass, would be subject to penalties.
Kruse states that he realizes the bill will face “vigorous lobbying against it by big companies,” and considering that Republicans often side with Big Business, his stance is original for his party’s usual political agenda. The bill is very similar to others that recently failed to win sufficient votes to be passed in other liberal Western states.
Kruse has tried to champion other unpopular bills in the past, including the teaching of creationism in schools and requiring that children in Indiana schools recite the Lord’s Prayer, but this food initiative actually has some wide-spread backing with non-GMO activists. He says that consumers deserve to know where their food comes from – and polls show that millions of Americans, regardless of religious affiliation, agree.
“I still like people knowing what they’re eating. If I choose to eat it, that’s my choice, I’ll go ahead and eat it, but I’d like to know that this has been genetically modified.”
Agribusiness obviously won’t agree with Kruse’s edict, continuing to spout misinformation about the safety of GMOs and the ‘rise in food prices’ that labeling would cause. But it costs pennies to change labels, and food manufacturers do it all the time for reasons that have nothing to do with GMO labeling.
One of Kruse’s biggest opponents is the powerful Farm Bureau, with an arm in Indiana that supports GMOs with powerful lobbying.
Justin Schneider, Indiana Farm Bureau’s senior policy adviser and counsel, says this about toxic GMOs:
“It’s a valuable tool, and there’s a lot of benefits in efficiency and using the technology. It’s been good for ag. It really has, and I think it’s been good for the consumer, being able to produce and grow products more efficiently in a shrinking pool of land.”
No mention is made by Schneider, of the fact that shrinking land is attributable to devalued soil and mono-cropping methods, both of which are linked to heavy pesticide and herbicide use.
Voters in Oregon, California, Colorado, and Washington recently have blocked GMO labeling initiatives, but hopefully voters in Indiana will successfully defeat the million-dollar ad campaigns that helped biotech win those states.
Maine and Connecticut also have pending GMO labeling laws, but require a ‘trigger’ whereby a neighboring state passes a law before their laws would go into effect.
Kruse is certainly an anomaly, since Congressional Republicans usually seek to push federal legislation that would override state laws mandating labels, stating concerns that individual states’ requirements could create burdens for food companies. But really – they are just bought out by Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, and other Big Food corps. The evidence abounds that they aren’t looking after anyone but themselves.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.