The news that GMO Free Idaho -- a group opposed to genetically modified organisms -- will be will protest Wednesday outside Sen. Mike Crapo's Boise office prompted a statement Monday from Crapo's spokesman, Lindsay Nothern.
Last month, Crapo and fellow GOP Sen. Jim Risch opposed an amendment to the new Farm Bill providing for mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods. The amendment by Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders failed on a 73-26 vote.
Nothern said Crapo and his staff respect the views of GMO foes, but said the products have many benefits, including higher yields and nutrition and reduced use of pesticides and herbicides.
Risch's spokesman, Brad Hoaglun, provided a statement from his boss: “There are federal laws already in place to make certain our food is safe. There was no need to add this amendment, and in fact, it was rejected in bipartisan fashion with 73 no votes when it came up for consideration.”
Nothern's four-paragraph statement follows, along with the Facebook posting of GMO Free Idaho:
"We have had several meetings and phone calls with the leadership of the GMO Idaho group and we respect their opinions. The review of genetic foods is the focus of study among three separate federal agencies - the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency.
"The FDA has a rigorous premarket approval process that new food ingredients must undergo before they reach the grocery store shelf. Because the FDA focuses on the final product rather than on the process by which a product is made, and genetic foods do not differ significantly in substance from their traditional counterparts, it does not require foods to be labeled as genetically enhanced. In fact, all plant breeding involves some form of genetic manipulation. However, when gene-modifying techniques are used to significantly change the composition of a food, labeling is required.
"We understand the concerns expressed by many who oppose genetically engineering food products and seek mandatory labeling for foods containing GE ingredients. However, we are also aware of the many benefits provided by GE crops, including increased yields and nutrition and reduced pesticides and herbicides used in the environment. Consumers do have choices they can make about purchasing foods, be they genetics, organics or others. Commodity groups are also engaged in this debate. So far, the only vote in the United States Senate to date requiring mandatory labeling for these food products, an amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill, was defeated by a vote of 73-26.
"The United States has one of the safest and most abundant food supplies in the world. Consumer safety and a robust agricultural sector need not be mutually exclusive. GE food products are a relatively new development in commercial food production, and we that it is important that we continue to study and monitor this new technology that has already demonstrated positive benefits. The Senator will continue to work to ensure sound consumer safety policies are adhered to while making sure our farmers and ranchers have the innovative tools they need to produce a safe and abundant food supply.
The anti-GMO posting, including contact information for organizers of Wednesday's 4 p.m. rally:
ARE YOU READY TO RALLY?!
Last month Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch voted against an amendment in the 2012 Farm Bill, proposed by Senator Bernie Saunders of Vermont, that would have given states the right to allow mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods.
Take one look at Monsanto’s and the other “industry” campaign contributions given to both these Senators in just 2010 alone, and we can see why they would vote against such an amendment.
If that wasn’t frustrating enough, a “Monsanto protection act” known as the “Farmer Assurance” provision was quietly added to the Farm Bill. This provision would prevent federal courts from banning the planting and growth of GMO crops while legal battles over their safety ensue. Planting GMO crops prior to proper environmental impact studies have been a continuous problem, which have resulted in federal courts banning the growth pending proper environmental safety testing.
Representative Peter Defazio of Oregon has proposed an amendment to strike this dangerous provision. His amendment will be voted on any day by the House and Senate.
We are ready to voice our opinion to our Senators who have let conscious consumers down time and time again.
Join us on Wednesday, July 18th at 4:00 on 251 East Front Street (across from the court house) at Senator Mike Crapo’s office in protest of his lack of regard to consumer concerns regarding GMO foods.
We have personally met with Mike Crapo’s staff members in the past and we know their stance on GMOs. Although we stated ours, we don’t think they heard us.
Let’s make sure Senator Crapo hears us loud and clear as we rally for the Right To Know what’s in our food!
Please bring signs, banners, anything you can to make some noise and to be heard. We will also be selling merchandise in order to raise awareness and to raise money for our cause so we can further educate Idaho consumers about GMOs in our food supply.
For more information or questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Leslie Stoddard at 208-521-8997 or Jenny Easley at 208-571-6388.