Senator Peter Wirth from Santa Fe, has introduced a bill to the NM state senate that would require genetically modified foods to be labeled. SB 18 would amend certain section of the New Mexico Food Act and Commercial Feed Law so that any food for human or animal consumption that contains genetically modified ingredients (also known as GMO), would have to be clearly labeled on the packaging.
A similar measure was taken in California last year with Proposition 37. According to Caring to Know, a website designed to recruit support for California's now dead prop 37, over 61 countries have already required GMO labeling effectively pushing out Monsanto, the biggest manufacturer of pesticides, GMO seed, and GMO food in the world. Monsanto, who markets itself as "sustainable agriculture" is responsible for creating Agent Orange, recombinant bovine growth hormone (rGBH), and so-called "terminator seed" which are sterile seeds that cannot be saved for future use.
There has been a nation-wide push to get Monsanto out of the United States. From documentaries like Farmegeddon (showing how Monsanto's relationship with the USDA and FDA is wreaking havoc on small, organic farmers) to the Non-GMO Project (a voluntary food-labeling initiative designed for organic food manufacturers) proponents of whole, organic food are coming out of the wood work to make sure that Monsanto doesn't gain a stronghold on the nation's food supply.
The argument against GMO, according to OrganicConsumers.org, is that GMO food has been genetically altered, not to increase nutrient density or to create new flavors, but to breed new crops with Monsanto's infamous weed killer, Roundup®, written into the DNA of the food. Organic Consumers has a plethora of academic sources citing scientific evidence to show the dangers of GMO to human beings and the entire ecosystem. Currently, Monsanto has been pushing the USDA to allow it to "police itself," so that there is no government oversight over what Monsanto produces.
There was of course, a major push back against prop 37 from giants in the food industry insisting that approval of prop 37 would mean more government oversight, increased cost which would be passed down to the consumer, and "shakedown" lawsuits against those companies who use GMO in their food manufacturing.
Even if the cost of GMO is ultimately passed off to the consumer, as with most other costs-of-operation, is it worth it to pay for a little label? If the scientific evidence is correct, and GMO is responsible for a whole crop of diseases including cancer and infertility, then perhaps it is worth it. Could we potentially save billions of dollars in health care costs just by paying a few cents more at the grocery store?
SB 18 is currently in the Senate Public Affairs Committee, and they are scheduled to bring discussion on the bill as early as Tuesday, January 29th, 2012. Here is the list of members in the committee and their contact info.
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