GMO bill passed by Congress

Congress has passed a GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) bill. According to MeatingPlace.com, on July 14, 2016 the U.S. House of Representatives voted 306-117 to pass a bill establishing a national mandatory system of disclosure for foods containing genetically modified or engineered ingredients.

The bill says, “To amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a national disclosure standard for bioengineered foods, and for other purposes.”

Since the Senate also approved the bill on July 7, in a 63-30 vote, the bill will now be sent to President Obama who has agreed to sign it. The proposed bill was a compromise between Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), chairman of the Senate Agricultural Committee, and Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), ranking member, that will give food manufacturers three options for affixing a GMO label to their goods:

  1. Text, a symbol, or a written statement on the package,
  2. A link to a website or a phone number to call to ask about the food product,
  3.  A QR (Quick Response) code that shoppers would scan with their smartphones to look up information about the food product.

Reportedly, there will be no penalties of fines imposed for noncompliance. Additionally, the bill’s requirements for labeling will be phased in over the coming years, allowing food companies time to adapt.

In reading through the bill, it outlines when a food would/would not meet the criterion expressed about as containing genetically engineered foods. It also states, “SAFETY.—For the purpose of regulations promulgated and food disclosures made pursuant to paragraph (2), a bioengineered food that has successfully completed the pre-market Federal regulatory review process shall not be treated as safer than, or not as safe as, a non-bioengineered counterpart of the food solely because the food is bioengineered or produced or developed with the use of bioengineering.”

The bill exempts foods in which meat and poultry are the main ingredients. GMOAnswers.com addresses the question of If livestock eat genetically modified grain, will there be GMOs in my meat?  The short answer is no, however to fully understand why, be sure to check out the article. Another interesting read is No sign of health or nutrition problems from GMO livestock feed (peer-reviewed journal article linked in article). The bill also exempts gene-edited food items, or items where genes have been removed. To learn more about gene editing, this article on Questions and answers about CRISPR does a good job explaining. Ultimately determining what exactly a GMO product is will be determined by the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) reports Food Safety Magazine.

This agreement was reached just days before the nation’s first biotechnology food labeling law was set to go into effect in Vermont on July 1. This bill prohibits individual states from mandating labels of food or seed that is genetically engineered, creating a patchwork of varying state standards which would needlessly add cost for food companies that package foods and create unnecessary alarm among consumers, reports Mankato Free Press. Additionally, individual state requirements would make it extremely difficult for food manufacturers to distribute food products in multiple states without running into legislative inconsistencies, not to mentioning costs that would be passed to the consumer.

If you keep up on the labeling of genetically modified foods, then you know there has also strong opposition to it. GMO Answers addresses some of those concerns in Why do GMO companies seem like they are so against labeling GMO foods? 

Want more information about GMOs? Some great resources I recommend include:

What do you think about this new bill? Will it be something you look for when you shop for food?

———————

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
Facebook
Pinterest

Animal Agriculture Alliance Symposium take-aways

I recently attended the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 14th Annual Stakeholders Summit. It was a great summit with top-notch speakers, important and relevant topics, and great networking opportunities (you can find the agenda and full details here). This year the theme was the Journey to Extraordinary, focusing on transparency and opening the barn doors.

AAAI wanted to share some of the messages that resonated with me, via my twitter account that was blowing up last week. These are just a few of the messages, to follow the entire conversation check out #aaa15. Also, you can listen to the presentation recordings here

– Rising global temps will make it a challenge to provide a stable environment to grow food in the future.

– Hunger and food availability are very real issues in America!

– In depth look at food and ag by National Geographic.

– Lots of great Millennial research.

– The average U.S. family of four waste every 1 in 3 calories – Wow!

– 1 in 8 people suffer from hunger. Yet we still fight over safe Ag technologies (ie GMO).

– Retailers don’t like Ag to use a technology that they can’t defend to consumers.

– Mandatory GM labeling would add approx $500/yr/family in grocery costs!

– All food is local, it is just globally dispersed.

– Personable, passionate, and transparent people are good for Ag.

– Don’t throw your fellow producers under the bus for personal gain.

– Most animals get a perfect diet, they prob eat better than most people!

– Social media doesn’t replace one-on-one conversations with people – engage in person too.

– In order for teams to have a lot of innovation, they embrace the risk that comes with it!

– Stay calm and keep messages consistent! Good advice for a daunting interview.

– Start planning today if you don’t have a crisis management plan yet.

– Your employees are your best brand investors in the communities and at home.

As you can see the speakers, topics, and conversations were varied and diverse. There was some great information I can use instantly, and there is some stuff I will have to think on some more.

Do any of these message hit home for you?

heifers-final————————————-

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

10 Things You May Not Know About GMOs

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are a huge advancement in agricultural technology. Wanda wrote a great blog post about some of the most common misconceptions about GMOs.

10 Things You May Not Know About GMOs.

What questions do you still have? What information can I provide to you about GMOs?

——————

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Genetically Engineered (GE) Animals: Benefits to human health?

Several pieces of media have crossed my path on the genetic engineering (GE) of animals. I have a folder started with these types of things, but I thought I would just start making them available online for all of you too, in case we ever need to reference them.

Please take the time to read and listen to these stories. Do GE animals have the potential to provide human health benefits? To provide benefits to other animals? Or to protect our natural resources?

Listen to Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, U.C. Davis Cooperative Extension Specialist – Animal Genomics and Biology, discuss GE animals via UNL Market Journal.

Ebola cure may come from GE cattle – Wow, wouldn’t that be amazing?!

The release of GE mosquitoes may help protect against diseases like Dengue and Chikungunya, as well as decrease overall mosquito populations – but is the concern of being bitten by a genetically modified organism greater than the potential benefits?

I am excited to see where the science and technology of genetic engineering will go; there is tremendous potential and we are just in the infancy stages. I also believe research needs to continue to ensure if and when these projects come to fruition they are safe.

Do these stories excite you or make you nervous? If you had a magic wand, what would genetically engineered animals do for you?

—————————

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)