July 1, 2016

Senate GMO Labeling Bill Clears First Hurdle; Nobel Laureates Urge Greenpeace To End GMO Opposition

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.”


Bayer To Host Local Show Case Plot Tours

Bayer-Showcase-Plot-Tours-2016-LogoGrowers around the country are invited to visit a local Showcase Days event and learn about the most recent advances in managing weed resistance; sudden death syndrome in soybeans; nematode pressure; and other agronomic challenges. The events will also feature seed traits, varieties and hybrids.

Showcase Days consists of a series of events scheduled in fields around the country, tailored to provide growers with solutions for their agronomic challenges. Sponsored by Bayer, specialists and local agronomists will be on site to discuss problems and provide solutions, specific to local growers’ fields, soil profiles and environmental conditions.

“Growers have a lot of information to absorb every year, as they plan for the next season,” said Bayer Marketing Manager, Malin Westfall. “These Bayer Showcase Days help growers wade through a lot of that information in a concise way. We invite growers to visit us, see products at work and get honest answers to their questions.”

These events run from July through September and demonstrate the success of various Bayer products used on corn, soybeans, cereals, canola and cotton crops. Growers can register for their local Showcase Days event at www.showcaseplottours.bayer.us. This site also includes information for locations and events.

Attendees can also enter the Real Yield Sweepstakes onsite for a chance to win prizes like a 500 acre field of LibertyLink for soybeans.

2016 Showcase Day Locations:
-Sabin, MN — July 12 (soybeans, corn, cereal crops)
-Brookings/Volga, SD — August 10 (soybeans, corn, cereal crops)

Bayer is committed to bringing new technology and solutions for agriculture and non-agricultural uses. For questions concerning the availability and use of products, contact a local Bayer representative, or visit Crop Science, a division of Bayer, online at www.cropscience.bayer.us.


GMO Labeling Bill Opponents Begin To Make Their Case – AUDIO

Now that Senate negotiators have finalized the text of a GMO labeling bill, efforts now turn to getting the bill through Capitol Hill’s upper chamber. But opponents to the measure are also digging in their heels to try and stop any progress it might make.

Senate Agriculture Committee chair and Kansas Republican Pat Roberts said on Tuesday that he’s still holding out hope for a vote this week. He added that he’s still gathering support, but he thinks the bill has the necessary 60 votes.

Two Senators who almost certainly will not be voting in favor took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to express their displeasure with the agreement. Vermont Democrat and former Senate ag committee chair Patrick Leahy said he doesn’t think the bill goes far enough…tape

Leahy GMO 1

The bill would allow for disclosure with QR codes, a website, or a phone number rather than the on-package labeling required by the Vermont GMO labeling bill. Leahy says he can’t get behind the bill in its current form…

Leahy GMO 2


Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley said the method of disclosure will put the burden on the consumer…tape

Merkley GMO

Advocates for the bill are hoping to get a vote on it this week. That would allow the House to quickly take the measure up when they return in July.

Vermont’s GMO labeling law is set to go into effect on Friday.