MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A bill banning state-level labeling rules for GMOs in food passed a Senate committee this week, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is taking some heat for voting yes.
Opponents say they have a right to know what is in their food. Klobuchar says this is not the end of the debate.
Whether our foods contain GMOs may continue to be a mystery. Genetically-modified organisms are living things, like fruits and vegetables, that have been manipulated in a lab.
“It’s food, and what’s more personal than the food that we’re choosing to nourish ourselves and to feed our family,” Right To Know Minnesota’s Tracy Singleton said. “I think people have the right to know what’s in their food and how it’s produced.”
The Senate Agriculture Committee approved a bill Tuesday that would stop states from requiring labels on GMO foods.
“GMO labeling is a huge issue for Minnesota’s ag industry, for Cargill, for General Mills and for other countries,” Larry Jacobs, of the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said. They see it as a real thorn in their side in terms of creating jobs, maintaining prosperity in the company and, frankly, in Minnesota.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not declared GMO foods to be a threat to human health. Some believe that labeling GMO foods could give rise to unnecessary consumer fears.
In the Senate, Klobuchar voted for the bill barring state-level GMO labels, but says it will need amendments to pass the whole Senate.
“Sen. Klobuchar finds herself square in the middle of a big fight. On the one side, she’s fighting for the ag industry in Minnesota and some of the largest private-sector employers here,” Jacobs said. “On the other side, consumer activists are quite frustrated that Sen. Klobuchar has sided with industry and not provided information to consumers to make their own choices.”
Sen. Klobuchar said in a statement to WCCO, “I voted to allow the bill to go to the entire Senate so changes can be made. I will not support a final bill until it includes more transparency and a national uniform standard that works for consumers.”
“The whole theory of a free market is let the consumers decide,” Singleton, owner of Minneapolis’ Birchwood Café, said. “But for a free market to work effectively, consumers have to have all the information. And so that’s all we’re asking for.”
If you want to avoid GMOs in your food, look for items that have a “certified organic” label on them.
WCCO did reach out to Land O’Lakes President Chris Policinski. He said in a statement, “Consumers want more transparency, and it is imperative that we respond by setting a national standard that is clear and consistent rather than a state-by-state patchwork, which will lead to confusion, chaos and higher costs for consumers.”