The U.S. Senate Wednesday night cleared a procedural vote on the GMO labeling compromise by Senators Debbie Stabenow and Pat Roberts. The Senate voted 68-29 in favor of the vote, clearing the way for considerations on the Senate floor. Stabenow, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, says the bill “will have the votes” to pass the Senate, likely next week. Senator Roberts, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, echoed Stabenow’s comments after the vote saying he looks forward to the Senate acting on the bill next week.
Still, other outlets are reporting it’s unclear how many Democrats may ultimately support the bill. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders announced this week he plans to put a hold on the bill. Other Democrats want the bill to include mandatory on-package requirements, rather than giving food manufacturers the option of on-package labels, or smart labels that direct consumers to more information. However, it’s not too late for lawmakers to preempt Vermont’s GMO labeling mandate. Though the state law takes effect Friday, the Vermont attorney general has said he will not start enforcing the law until the beginning of 2017.
While the GMO debate may be winding down in the Senate, it appears to be heating up elsewhere. More than 100 Nobel Prize winners are asking Greenpeace to end its opposition to genetically modified organisms. A letter by the Nobel laureates asks Greenpeace to cease its efforts to block introduction of a genetically engineered strain of rice. Supporters say the rice strain could reduce Vitamin-A deficiencies causing blindness and death in children in the developing world.
Richard Roberts, chief scientific officer of New England Biolabs, helped organize the letter campaign. Roberts stated the current stance on GMO’s by Greenpeace is “damaging, and is anti-science.” Greenpeace International’s website says the release of GMOs into the natural world is a form of “genetic pollution.” Nobel laureate Randy Schekman, a cell biologist at the University of California-Berkeley, said, “I find it surprising groups that are very supportive of science when it comes to global climate change…can be so dismissive of the general views of scientists when it comes to something as important as the world’s agricultural future.”Share