THE BLOG
07/25/2016 09:41 am ET Updated Jul 26, 2017

Could President Obama Veto GMO Labeling Law?

I just asked President Obama to veto the GMO labeling law, S. 764, which establishes an almost meaningless national labeling standard for genetically modified foods. The action took maybe two minutes, and if enough of us speak up now, a travesty could be averted. We need real regulation, I believe, not a sham pretense.

Instead of requiring U.S. food labels to state which specific GM ingredients a product contains, labels would have a short line of text that a product contains at least some GM ingredients (two vague options available), or else a barcode that may be scanned, but no requirement to disclose which exact ingredients are genetically modified.

Labeling disclosure regulation would fall under the generally GMO-friendly U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), not the more health-conscience Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which already regulates labeling food ingredients. The USDA would need to set up a new apparatus to do what the FD does already -- a wasteful use of our tax dollars, you may agree.

The split of regulatory power over food labels may yield turf disputes between the USDA and FDA. Is built-in conflict between the two federal agencies intentional?

I believe the bill is a corrupt attempt by the GMO industry (through congressional proxies) to preempt more informative food labeling legislation. For me, that in itself merits a veto.

We've seen the same global agrochemical industry resist other forms of disclosure about what they do, such as lawsuits to stop local laws that would regulate when and where the GMO seed companies can spray toxic "restricted-use" pesticides to grow their test seed crops here on Kauai and across Hawaii or elsewhere.

The GMO industry contains divisions of the world's Big Six chemical companies (Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, DuPont, BASF, and Syngenta). In the USA, they control about 90 percent of the corn and soy and virtually all the sugar beets. The industry likes row crops. Now the industry is consolidating into fewer few global corporations, yet their hold on the global food supply will remain, already at 75 percent of all seeds planted commercially.

As enacted and proposed "Monsanto laws" attest, the GMO industry would make it illegal for localities and even nations to regulate their agricultural activities. The anti-GMO pesticide movement is less visible to the public than the anti-GMO labeling movement, yet I argue that the industry is protecting itself on all fronts.

If you believe with me that Bill S. 764 is greenwashing, a smokescreen, an attempt to forestall any meaningful regulation, then please add your voice to mine by asking President Obama to veto the "National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard," asking him instead to tell Congress he wants a bill that actually protects Americans.

I found two fast ways to request the veto of Bill S. 764:

White House Comment Line: 202-456-1111 (wait for operator)
Send an email: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact