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.


Ag Industry Continues To Contemplate Legal Issues With Drone Use

Drones are becoming more common and their use in agriculture is expected to increase. But with that increased use – there are increased legal issues to be sorted out. One of the first issues is who owns the airspace over your farm? Ohio State University Associate Professor Peggy Kirk-Hall says that’s not very clear and has been dictated by court made law

Peggy Kirk Hall

Many farmers are concerned about animal rights groups or other groups flying over the farm to try and get unauthorized videos. Kirk-Hall says recent ag gag or other civil privacy laws may be used to prevent unauthorized videos – but each state has different rules. One rule that is nationwide – according to Kirk-Hall – it is a crime to shoot down a drone…tape

Peggy Kirk Hall 2

Some operators currently assume that drones right now fall under the personal use aircraft below 400 feet rules, but the FAA says that assumption is incorrect.  However, the FAA does expect to propose rules for drones weighing less than 55 pounds later this year.  Its unlikely they will be finalized until 2016.

A recent statement from the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems predicts that eventually 80% of the drone market will be for agricultural uses.


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.