GMO Labeling — The most important issue we are working on with great urgency is getting a GMO labeling bill through Congress. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) released a draft bill on Feb-ruary 19 and was scheduled to move it through the Ag Committee on February 25. We need to move the bill quickly in order to preempt the Vermont labeling law that goes into effect on July 1, 2016. Of course, food companies have to make labeling decisions months earlier so that all inventory in stores and distribution centers that do not have the proper required label can be rotated out — or face the threat of being sued. It is essential that Democrat sen-ators work with Sen. Roberts to fashion an acceptable bill that is long overdue and move it forward quickly.
In the U.S. beet sugar industry’s press statement in sup-port of the bill, we made the following points:
“GMOs have been proven safe by nearly 2,000 studies from the leading scientific bodies in the world, including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association,” said research agronomist Rebecca Larson (Ph.D.) of Denver, Colo. “It has been proven multiple times that in the processing of sugar from biotech sugarbeets, all of the protein and DNA is removed and the sugar is identi-cal to white sugar produced from conventional sugarbeets, sugarcane or organic sugarcane. They are all GMO free.”
GMOs help farmers use fewer, safer pesticides and less fuel, reduce greenhouse gasses, conserve water, and decrease soil erosion while producing higher yields on less land. Sugar beet farmers overwhelmingly elect to use GMO sugarbeets on their farms because the sugar is as pure and natural as it has always been, while achieving 25 environmental benefits.
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Luther Markwart, author of Dateline Washington, is executive vice president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association.