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5 January 2014 - Here we go again!

Welcome to the New Year of 2014, and here we go again with unfinished business that really needs to be taken care of in this new year, and quickly.

First, the Farm Bill. . . We are more than a year overdue and we now have until the end of the month to write a new Farm Bill. Let’s hope the Republican controlled House can reach a compromise on the cost of the nutrition program. Second is Immigration Reform and that one is still on the table going nowhere. Finally the third one, that again, I just don’t understand is the GMO Labeling Initiative. The Initiative was defeated in California in 2012, defeated in Washington state this past year and now, the next state to give it a try will be Oregon. They are collecting signatures now, they need 87,213 by the end of June, to get the GMO labeling initiative on the ballot in November.

My question is “why?” Why do we need GMO labeling? It might be cheaper to label foods that do not contain some form of GMO because a very high percentage of our foods have contained GMO‘s for decades; or as I have suggested before, if you are concerned about this issue, then purchase your food at an organic food store. Let’s stop wasting millions of dollars on both sides, trying to convince voters that we should or should not have GMO labeling.

Both sides spent tons of money in California and Washington, and now we will be spending it again in the state of Oregon. This is not a state initiative. If you are going to have GMO labeling, it needs to be a national initiative. Can you imagine the challenge for a food processing company to label separately, food products that they want to sell in a state that has approved GMO labeling and then make sure it is delivered only to stores in that state. It makes no sense at all.

I go back to the answer I got from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack when I asked him about GMO labeling early in 2013. His answer was there are two reasons for labeling food: first is to list the ingredients in the food package, second is to alert of any danger, such as peanuts in a product, for those with peanut allergies. He said there is no scientific proof of any danger in GMO foods and to be forced to label those foods would imply danger and cast GMO technology in a bad light. 150 studies have been conducted around the globe and none of them have found any danger in the technology.

What we do know is that the technology has enabled us to produce far more of the world’s food on less fragile land and produce it using fewer pesticides and herbicides. That translates to better world-wide conservation of natural resources and less danger to producers and consumers.

And again, my final thought…stop wasting millions of dollars and man-hours on state initiatives. If you still insist on GMO labeling, make it a national initiative.

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