The USDA's Federal Safety and Inspection Service recently proposed regulations that will allow certain state-inspected plants to ship meat and poultry in interstate commerce. This impressive development is part of USDA's larger initiative, "Know Your Farmers, Know Your Food," which seeks to develop economic opportunities within regional and local food systems. Secretary Vilsack and Under Secretary Mande are to be applauded for such a far-sighted decision, one which could have a transformational effect on independent livestock producers.
North Carolina Rep. Glen Bradley, an advocate for consumer rights introduced a bill earlier this year to require labeling of genetically modified foods. House Bill 446 (text available here) sought to require “labeling of food and milk products sold in this state that are or that contain genetically modified food and or milk and milk products from animals that have received recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH).” First introduced on March 23, 2011 it was passed the very next day to the Agriculture Committee where it promptly withered and died. A representative from the office of House Bill 446 co-sponsor Rep. Bill Faison told us that it was highly unlikely to be revived this year.
If I were a cynical person, I would speculate that we have Big Ag to thank for this bill’s death. Why? Because industrial agricultural companies are the only entities that profit from our ignorance of what is in our food. This bill was not about banning genetic modification; it was simply about allowing the consumer to choose whether or not to consume its products. The steadfast resistance on the part of Big Ag to offer this choice shows a stunning lack of confidence – either in the ability of the consumer to make an informed decision or in their own products. All the more reason to join those marching in support of mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods. For more information visit Right2KnowMarch.org.