Just two weeks out from a crucial Washington state vote over the labeling of genetically modified (GM) crops or products made with genetically modified organisms (GMO), a leading food sovereignty activist is slamming President Obama for his complacency in the labeling fight.
During a recent interview with The Hill, Dave Murphy, founder and head of Food Democracy Now, recalled how in his speech during the 2007 Iowa caucuses, Candidate Obama brought the GMO labeling initiative to the forefront. The Hill writes:
Murphy was working for the Iowa Farmers Union at the time, and he organized a summit to give the presidential candidates another chance to speak about agriculture.
Reading Obama’s prepared remarks the night before, Murphy saw the section in support of labeling genetically altered foods.
“I thought, ‘This is a big staffer error,’” he said. “I couldn’t believe they were going to allow a candidate, a senator from Illinois, to go on stage and say that.”
Murphy said that, although the speech "jump-started" the GMO labeling movement, the now-President exhibits an "incredibly heartbreaking failure" to lend any support to the national debate.
Politicians including Obama frequently rely on the false assumption—propagated by the GMO industry—that there is a "scientific consensus" on the safety of GMO crops, as a means for staying out of the debate.
This criticism of Obama follows a Monday statement by a group of international scientists refuting what they say is a "misleading" and "misrepresentative" claim of scientific consensus on GMO safety.
“The claimed consensus on GMO safety does not exist,” they write. Moreover, they assert that claims made by the "GM seed developers and some scientists, commentators and journalists" encourage a "climate of complacency that could lead to a lack of regulatory and scientific rigor and appropriate caution, potentially endangering the health of humans, animals, and the environment."
This statement comes just two weeks ahead of a key vote in Washington state on legislation that requires the labeling of GMO food or products. Initiative 522 has become a national David versus Goliath battle between organic farmers, consumers and food sovereignty activists and the corporate food and biotech giants—such as Monsanto and Syngenta—who fund the opposition.
“We’re just asking for openness and transparency in the marketplace,” Murphy told The Hill.
“Prop. 37 woke people up," he said, referring to the 2012 California vote where big money defeated a labeling measure by a scant 350,000 votes. "People are waking up all over the country.”