Senate Approves Farm Bill, Rejects Mandatory GMO Labeling Amendment

After much debate and input, the Senate has finally passed the Farm Bill: a five-year, $500 billion bill that is rife with controversy, including major cuts to farm subsidies, land conservation efforts and rejecting a measure that would allow states the rights to require the mandatory labeling of foods or beverages that contain genetically modified ingredients.

Introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the amendment would have enabled states to begin taking action in creating transparency about genetically modified ingredients in our food system, and would have protected states from the threat of lawsuits by the large multi-national agro-chemical companies including Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont and Dow. Sanders’ measure was the first bill on labeling GMO foods brought to the U.S. Senate. And while it didn’t pass—and was opposed by virtually all major food corporations—Sanders says it’s a good step forward and will continue to be an area of focus for him and the 25 other Senators who voted in favor of the amendment.

A similar measure was proposed in Sanders’ state of Vermont earlier this year as well as in Connecticut, but both states backed away from legislating the measure out of fears that Monsanto (and possibly other biotech companies) would take legal action to stop the measure.

California could become the first state to mandate GMO labeling after a recent campaign collected enough signatures—nearly 1 million—to ensure a place on the November 2012 ballot for the controversial issue. If passed, other states are hopeful that they could soon follow suit and require labeling of GMOs, regardless of the federal Farm Bill.

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