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Montana Farmers Union voices support for clear, visible GMO-labeling on food packages

Montana Farmers Union

(NaturalNews) Shortly after the U.S. Senate passed the Stabenow-Roberts bill – popularly known as the Denying Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act 2.0 – the Montana Farmers Union (MFU) contacted the U.S. House of Representatives, urging them to reject the bill.

The law would preempt all state measures to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in foods, replacing them with a voluntary federal standard that requires looking up each individual product online with a smartphone, or by calling a 1-800 number.

"We have long supported GMO labeling as we are committed to helping consumers making informed decisions on where their food comes from," MFU president Alan Merrill said.

Why farmers support GMO labeling

The statement by the MFU was particularly significant because agriculture is Montana's largest industry. Additionally, food manufacturing is one of the state's fastest growing sectors, and is expected to add more jobs this year than any other manufacturing industry. Montana's agriculture industry generated $4.2 billion in 2012.

The state's top export is wheat (which may soon be released in GMO form), and another major project is sugar beets (nearly 100 percent GMO). Other major Montana products include beef, barley, cherries, seed potatoes and hay.

Yet, Montana also has a large stake in the organic food industry. It is the country's top producer of organic wheat, flax, and dried peas and lentils. In 2011, the MFU gave its support to the Just Label It campaign, and has also said it supports independent research into GMO safety.

The MFU seeks to inhabit a balanced, precarious position that advocates for the interests of both organic and non-organic farmers. Thus, it clarifies that it accepts GMO crops, as long as concerns about cross pollination (also known as genetic pollution), liability, seed stock segregation and market acceptance are properly addressed.

Unfortunately, the House of Representatives, for all that it lauded DARK Act 2.0 as a "compromise," was not interested in the MFU's balanced pro-labeling stance. It passed the bill, and President Obama has said that he plans to sign it.

DARK Act 'underhanded'

In its opposition statement, the MFU called Dark Act 2.0 "an underhanded way for companies to get around full disclosure of GMO ingredients." The statement condemned that bill's reliance on QR codes, websites and 1-800 numbers as "placing an excessive burden on consumers as it would be time consuming and unrealistic to expect them to go to such lengths to get information that should be visibly labeled and easy to read on the product."

Other critics have noted that the DARK Act is not simply unfair, but openly discriminatory.

"One-in-five Americans in the U.S. does not have smartphones," said Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.), who voted against the bill. "That includes 50 percent of Americans who are low-income and living in rural areas, and over 65 percent of elderly Americans."

Ninety percent of the U.S. public supports labeling of GMO ingredients. Yet, even the voluntary provisions of the DARK Act 2.0 apply to only 5 percent of GMO ingredients. That's right – the bill defines "GMO" in such a narrow way as to exclude nearly all GMO products on the market!

The MFU is not the only farmers' group to support labeling. Following the passage of DARK Act 2.0, the farmer-run Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) rescinded its membership in the Organic Trade Association, which had shockingly supported the bill.

You know your food isn't GMO if you grew it yourself from organic seeds! Consider upgrading your garden to the Food Rising Mini-Farm Grow Box 2.0, available from the Natural News Store. The mini-farm grow box is an electricity-free, self-watering hydroponics system that uses only 1/20th as much water as soil-based gardening, and can be used to grow herbs, fruits and vegetables.

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