New Food Law ‘Would Wreck Red River Valley,’ Ag Advocate Warns
A Vermont law could kill western Minnesota’s sugar beet industry, a farmer warns.
“It probably would wreck the Red River Valley,” President Karolyn Zurn of Minnesota Agriwomen told reporters on a Friday conference call.
The unusual connection between a Vermont lawmaker and Minnesota farmers comes over one of the most controversial things in agriculture today: genetically modified crops. Specifically, the law requires most foods with ingredients from modified crops to show that on the label.
President Perry Aasnes of the Minnesota AgriGrowth Council, a coalition of farmers and agri-businesses, said that since most food businesses sell in many states, they will decide to follow the Vermont law with all of their sales in all states. That will make the new Vermont law “the de facto labeling law of the land.”
The argument about genetically modified organisms is over whether they are safe. Supporters like Aasnes and Zurn say studies show they are safe, but opponents say that changing a plant’s DNA has widespread, and often unknown, consequences.
Most sugar beets and many other crops use genetically modified crop seeds. Such seeds produce plants that can better resist herbicides and pests, saving farmers money they used to spend on labor and chemicals they now do not need.
Forcing food producers to label products as containing GMOs “stigmatizes” the food, Aasnes said, which would hurt sales.
The Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food, which set up the conference call, asks Congress to pass a national law allowing voluntary labeling, superseding the Vermont law. The coalition says action is needed by when the law begins on July 1.
We are a broad-based coalition representing the entire American agriculture food supply chain – from farm to fork. We are committed to increasing the public’s understanding about the science and safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and advocating for science-based policies that keep food affordable for every American.