How Individual Members of U.S. Congress Voted On Labeling GMOs in Food

Last week, we reported on the campaign led by the Organic Consumers Association to appeal to President Obama to veto “any federal bill that would preempt states’ rights to pass mandatory GMO (Genetically MOdified food) labeling laws.”  This campaign was started as a response to the U.S. House of Representatives passing on July 23rd the bill (H.R. 1599) that would “permanently prohibit passage of any state or federal law mandating the labeling of GMOs in food.”

The open government movement in the U.S. received a big boost in 2004 when GovTrack was launched.  GovTrack, a government transparency website, “helps ordinary citizens find and track bills in the U.S. Congress and understand their representatives’ legislative record.” This powerful tool is easily accessed. In seconds, a user can find out how his or her representative voted on H.R. 1599 that was pushed to passage in the House of Representatives by “mainly biotech companies, farmers who grow genetically engineered crops, and the processed food companies that use these crops,” as noted in a persuasive editorial opposing this bill which keeps “consumers in the dark” by the Hill Country Observer, “the independent newspaper of eastern New York, southwestern Vermont and the Berkshires.”

A review of the vote has prompted a note of thanks to Congressman Paul Tonko, who represents much of the Capital Region of upstate New York including my hometown of Albany, NY.  Republican Congressman Chris Gibson, who represents Columbia County and Rensselaer County, also part of the Capital Region, bucked the party line, and deserves kudos.  Gibson’s district includes Kinderhook (Columbia County, NY), the location of Roxbury Farm, the source for my CSA food share and also the hometown of Congressman Gibson.  It’s reasonable to presume that his roots in rich farm country, where CSA farms are thriving as noted by this website’s directory of CSA farms in New York, (which includes eight CSA farms in Columbia County and seven in Rensselaer County) encouraged the Congressman to reject H.R. 1599: a bill with the sadly Orwellian titled name (as noted by the Hill Country Observer in its editorial), “The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act.” Hogwash.

Frank Barrie (8/18/15)


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