March 27, 2015

Voluntary GMO Food Labeling Legislation Hits House Floor

Representatives Mike Pompeo of Kansas and G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina have introduced the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act – which would create a national, science-based standard for the safety and labeling of food products containing genetically modified ingredients. The legislation is supported by a number of ag organizations – including the National Corn Growers Association and American Feed Industry Association. National Council of Farmer Cooperatives President and CEO Chuck Conner says this legislation is vital to giving farmers and consumers the certainty they deserve when it comes to labeling of food containing GMO ingredients – and at the same time would preserve choices in the marketplace for both groups. Conner says growers and farmer co-ops across the country have embraced biotechnology as a way to increase yields in an environmentally and economically sustainable way. He says this bill represents an important step in cutting through the misinformation about GMOs and focuses on the science attesting to their safety and the benefits these crops provide.

The American Soybean Association supports the bill – which ASA President Wade Cowan says would end confusion for consumers over which food products do not contain biotech ingredients. Cowan says establishing a national standard for non-GMO labels ensures all of the products without GMOs will have one simple, easy-to-understand label on them – and the consumer gets the information he or she is looking for. He says the bill also helps provide consumers with greater clarity by replacing state laws and regulations that can be at odds with one another with a clear national standard.

The American Farm Bureau Federation also applauds the introduction of this legislation – saying state-led mandatory food labeling initiatives mislead consumers about the safety of GM foods – even though there is no credible evidence linking a food safety or health risk to the consumption of GM foods. Creating a national labeling standard – according to AFBF President Bob Stallman – will give consumers the information they need while avoiding unnecessary confusion and added costs of a patchwork of state laws.


Monsanto Responds to IARC Study on Glyphosate

The International Agency for Research on Cancer convened a meeting earlier this month to evaluate the potential carcinogenic risks to humans from several pesticides – including glyphosate.

Glyphosate is an active ingredient in many popular herbicides – including Monsanto’s Roundup brand herbicides. IARC concluded that glyphosate belongs in a 2A category as probably carcinogenic to humans – a category that includes numerous everyday items and known professions.

Monsanto Product Protection and Nutrition Lead Donna Farmer says Monsanto is very disappointed with this conclusion because glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides are among the most thoroughly tested and evaluated pesticides in the world…tape

Farmer 1

Monsanto is joining others of the European Union and U.S. Glyphosate Task Forces in its disagreement with a classification that Farmer says is such a dramatic departure from the conclusion reached by regulatory agencies around the world…tape

Farmer 2

Farmer says this classification should not impact farmers who use glyphosate. She puts the classifications into perspective…tape

Farmer 3

As consumers themselves – Farmer says Monsanto takes great pride in the safety behinds its products – and glyphosate is no exception. She says glyphosate has a long history of safe use and is valued as an agricultural tool in more than 160-countries around the world.


Research Arm of World Health Organization Labels Glyphosate “Probably” Carcinogenic

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a French based arm of the World Health Organization, published a study on Friday labeling Glyphosate a “probable carcinogen”.  Glyphosate, along with four organophosphate insecticides, were included in a study which reviewed the classifications of the chemicals.  Other chemicals reclassified were malathion (now classified as probable carcinogen) and diazinon (also moved to probable carcinogen). Two other insecticide, tetrachlorvinphos and parathion were classified as “possibly carcinogenic”, meaning while the group believes it has evidence of carcinogenic properties for animals, it doesn’t have enough information on it’s effect on humans.

The study flies in the face of previous classifications of Glyphosate. As recently as two months ago, the German government completed a rigorous four year study for the European Union and concluded that “glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk in humans”.  Even EPA responded to the IARC report noting that their human risk assessment in 2012 found the herbicide meets all the statutory safety standards.

The reclassification has sparked swift response from groups such as the Glyphosate Joint Task Force, a group composed of more than 20 glyphosate registration holders in the U.S. and Canada.  The group requested that IARC meet immediately with global regulatory authorities and disclose what studies were and were not used in reaching this conclusion.  IARC is said to have favorably cited a long discounted rat study in 2012 by Gilles-Eric Seralini which included pictures of rats suffering from large tumors after reportedly ingesting glyphosate laden feed.  IARC critic and ag chemical leader Val Giddings  said the fact that IARC included this study as support for their conclusion suggests “they have run thoroughly off the rails”.

Glyphosate, to this point, has been deemed safe over its 40 year existence.  The chemical first came to market in 1974 and was sold under the label “Round Up”.