Three new pieces of legislation are set to be presented before the 111th Congress, and each one would increase the regulatory guidelines for genetically-modified organisms (GMO). Authored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), the three bills would mandate GMO labeling, require proper GMO safety testing, eliminate seed patenting, increase rights and protections for farmers, and administer full liability to biotechnology companies for damage caused by GMOs.
First introduced by Rep. Kucinich back in 2003, the bills reflect common-sense policies that are in the best interests of consumers rather than corporations. They offer both transparency in food labeling and reasonable safety guidelines concerning the cultivation of GMOs.
The Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act, or H.R. 6636, simply requires any food item containing GMOs to be labeled as such. Consumers have a right to know what they are putting in their bodies, especially as it concerns harmful substances like GMOs. And the bill does just that, as it establishes an open and transparent food labeling system.
The Genetically Engineered Food Safety Act, or H.R. 6635, mandates that each GMO be copiously evaluated prior to being approved for cultivation. This includes researching how it will affect other nearby crops, the environment, and human health. The bill forces the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to screen each GMO individually and examine any and all health concerns associated with them, as well as places a moratorium on all pharmaceutical and industrial crop until all regulatory guidelines are met.
The Genetically Engineered Technology Farmer Protection Act, or H.R. 6637, protects farmers from being sued by biotechnology companies for supposed patent infringement. When GMO seeds or pollen drift into nearby fields, for instance, current laws have actually allowed biotechnology companies to sue farmers for allegedly violating intellectual property rights. All this will change with H.R. 6637, as biotechnology companies will become fully responsible for any negative impacts caused by their products, including incidents of contamination.
The first time around, these three bills ended up dead in the water. But with your help, they just might get different treatment this time around. Be sure to contact your Congressmen and urge them to co-sponsor or support these bills by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 225-3121.