Paul Towers

Paul Towers

Can’t stop, won’t stop our ‘Right to Know’

Just yesterday, Colorado advocates got the signatures they needed to put a public initiative to label genetically engineered (GE) foods on the November ballot. Colorado's proposition 105, and its counterpart in Oregon which qualified last month (Measure 92), are the latest in efforts by a broad coalition of farmers, public interest groups and public health experts to provide consumers with straightforward information about what’s in our food and how it’s grown.

There are plenty of reasons to want that choice, and it should rest with families to make it. Labeling lifts the veil on the vast consolidation of the pesticide and seed market, highlights potential damages to the health and livelihood of family farmers and rural communities, and highlights environmental impacts.

And those are just a few of the reasons. The need for information is all the more critical as USDA appears poised to greenlight a new wave of GE seeds and the blanket use of pesticides like Dow's 2,4-D and Monsanto's dicamba that goes with them.

Americans are increasingly questioning the industrial food system, and specifically GE seeds, crops and related pesticides as drivers of that outdated system. At the same time, federal officials seem unable or unwilling to fix or reform it.

So states and counties across the country are stepping in to fill the void.

Monsanto & Co must be tired of fighting

Pesticide and GE seed giants — BASF, Bayer, Dow, DuPont, Monsanto and Syngenta — have already spent millions to narrowly defeat previous initiatives in California and Washington. They recently lost a battle with a group of family farmers to prohibit GE seed plantings in Oregon’s Jackson and Josephine Counties. And these are just the fights that have surfaced most publicly.

As cities and counties across the country gain traction on these issues, the "Big 6" pesticide and GE seed corporations are looking to further limit or prohibit the right to local control. The aptly dubbed Denying Americans the Right to Know or DARK Act (HR 4432) aims to do just that by preempting or undermining the ability of any state to pass a law that would label GE foods.

And these efforts have hit home. As I noted recently, we fell just two votes short of passing a bill to label GE foods out of the California Senate. According to state filings, it was the only bill that pesticide and GE seed giant Pioneer DuPont lobbied against in the last two years.

This, of course, hasn’t stopped these corporations yet. For example, front group Oregonians for Food and Shelter — with Monsanto, Syngenta and DuPont on their board — is one of the leading opponents of Oregon's Measure 92. And they look to spend big this election season.

From California, I'll be standing with and cheering for the broad and diverse coalition of Oregonians and Coloradans as they square off with these powerful special interest groups that aim to limit their rights.

Paul Towers

Paul Towers

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