In New Orleans, home of Commodity Classic 2016, the American Soybean Association made their primary objective crystal clear. “Right now, our focus is the most important issue facing agriculture today,” said Ron Moore, ASA First Vice President, “GMO labeling.”
The ASA supports the bill proposed by Senator Ag Committee Chairman Pat Roberts requiring voluntary federal labeling standards for foods containing GMOs. The bill recently passed in the agriculture committee. This would preempt state laws, such as Vermont mandatory labeling, set to take effect on July 1.
“This bill isn’t about blocking what we feel is an unworkable state law. It’s accomplishing two goals,” said ASA President Richard Wilkins. “Our industry has to be more transparent. We have to be more open about what we do, why we do it and how it enables us to better meet consumer demand.”
The second goal is protecting biotechnology and plant breeding from being “drug down by misperception and misinformation,” said Wilkins. “Over 20 years of research, testing and field use prove that GMOs are safe and that they enhance our sustainability.”
Wilkins said the new law must include transparency or it won’t get democratic support.
“We refuse to get behind a bill that gives any life to the misleading activists that say biotech is anything less than safe, sustainable and part of the solution to global food security,” said Wilkins.
The goal is to give consumers the information they want, while recognizing the safety and sustainability of biotechnology.
And the ASA asked U.S. farmers to do their part and get involved.
“You’ve heard us say that before, but it’s never been more true,” said ASA Chairman Wade Cowan. “This is the tipping point. Communicate what the food makers in this country need to the lawmakers on the hill, or we’re doomed to be without biotechnology.”
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Cowan encouraged farmers to call 866.464.6633 or visit CFSAF.org. Once farmers call or go online, they will learn how to communicate and connect with senators regarding the voluntary labeling bill. Cowan said the bill is the first step in accomplishing a much bigger goal.
“So that’s the call to arms. A few thousand people isn’t going to do this,” said Cowan. “It’s time to rock the hill.”