Industry’s Secret Plan to Get the Feds to Kill GMO Labeling in Every State

Internal documents from the Grocery Manufacturers Association reveal height of corporate chutzpah. Industry’s solution to GMO labeling is to: “Pursue statutory federal preemption which does not include a labeling requirement.”

With the disappointing results now in from I-522, the initiative in Washington State that would have required labeling of genetically-engineered food (aka GMOs), the looming question is, what’s next? At least for the junk food lobby, that answer in painfully clear: stop this state-level movement at any cost. In today’s New York Times, Stephanie Strom reports on the dirty details contained in industry documents that I obtained from the Washington State attorney general’s office in the wake of a lawsuit brought against the Grocery Manufacturers Association for illegally concealing donors to the No on 522 campaign.

As I explained back in February, the food industry’s ultimate game plan to stop the bleeding in the state-by-state onslaught of GMO labeling efforts is to lobby for a weak federal law that simultaneously preempts or trumps any state-level policy. While we have known that industry would want to put an end to the public relations nightmare happening state by state, this document for the first time reveals the lobbyists’ specific strategy.

The details are even worse than I thought and give new meaning to the word chutzpah. I had predicted a federal compromise, where industry would agree to a weak form of labeling in exchange for stripping state authority. But what industry wants instead is to stop state laws to require labeling, while not giving up anything in return. In their own words, the game plan is to “pursue statutory federal preemption which does not include a labeling requirement.”

Let me repeat that: The junk food lobby’s “federal solution” is to make it illegal for states to pass laws requiring GMO labeling. Period. End of story.

This is not the way preemption is supposed to work. A quick primer. Preemption simply means that a higher law trumps a lower law: so federal trumps state, and state trumps local. This is often the most economically feasible policy approach for business. But it’s also industry’s way of ensuring uniformity and stopping a movement in its tracks. Here is the pattern: a grassroots movement builds over time to enact local or state laws to protect public health or increase the minimum wage, or some other social goal, and industry fights these efforts for years, until they can no longer win. At that point, corporate lobbyists either get their own weak bill passed, or work with advocates to pass a compromise version. In exchange, this new law will preempt or prevent any state or city from passing a different or stronger law. It will also negate any law already passed. Forever.

But usually, there is some underlying legal requirement that industry must follow for the concept of preemption to even make sense. The idea is to require some action by industry, with the trade-off for companies to follow one standard instead of 50. Take menu labeling in chain restaurants as a good example. For that issue, there was also a grassroots movement in both states and cities around the nation. So when the National Restaurant Association had enough of fighting those bills, the lobbying group agreed to a federal compromise to require only calorie counts (a weak standard) in exchange for preemption, that is, not allowing any state or local laws to go further. In fact, the Grocery Manufacturers Association itself endorsed this plan.

But in the current GMA chutzpah scenario, the federal government would outlaw states from enacting GMO labeling, while food makers would not have to label their products. In other words, industry would stop the grassroots movement and not have to pay any price.

Now that the junk food lobby’s true agenda has been revealed, our federal representatives and officials are on notice: The food movement will be holding you accountable to ensure that this democracy-killing power grab does not come to fruition.

You can read the entire set of documents from GMA here. Much of the text is redacted, a sign that industry has a lot more to hide.

38 Responses to “Industry’s Secret Plan to Get the Feds to Kill GMO Labeling in Every State”

  1. Belinda says:

    Outraged, our elected officials are suppose to be looking out for “We the People”, our best interest, not the best interest of big money and toxic cancer causing companies such as Monsanto, Koch.
    If there wasn’t anything to hide, then why do they care if “We The People” want our food labeled, Totally screwed up…..
    Not surprised at all because cannabis is a cure for cancer and other diseases/illnesses, yet lobbyists for the Pharmaceutical companies and others are trying to deny us, “We The People”, The Cure.
    And denying us to grow hemp because of big money such as Petroluem, Hearst, DuPont….
    We are the laughing stock of the world, yet our country tries to advice other countries, what a joke!

  2. [...] was I naive. According to GMA documents uncovered by the public-health lawyer and writer Michele Simon, Big Food has no intention of laying down its lobbying or campaign finance swords on the labeling [...]

  3. Jenn says:

    Why not use some money donated to help support labeling and give it to the companies whose food is gmo free to change their labels promoting ‘no gmo’.

    If enough of those companies have their labels promoting non gmo people will start to look for them.

    Beat them at their own game.

    • Anne Temple says:

      One of the arguments the pro-GMO camp is using is that it will cost food manufacturers, and therefore consumers to label their products. That is one of the ways they tried to sway the vote int their favor, and unfortunately it worked. However, I was lucky enough to hear Arran Stephens, the owner and CEO of “Natures Path” talk in the GMO mini-summit and he reiterated what I already knew to be true. Companies are constantly changing their packaging/labeling. The cost is built into the price of the product, so it won’t cost them or us any more.

  4. Kevin says:

    Not one reputable study has ever linked GMO foods to harming humans, not one. GMO is growing, and here to stay, get over it.

    • Turaj says:

      Wow, you’re so informed! Oh wait, wait, actually every scientist who has ever studied it on lower mammals has found very disturbing implications for human beings, ranchers report that their animals get sick or become sterile when feeding them GMO corn, lab rats go sterile in three generations on GM diets, and our own FDA including the lead scientist assigned to examine GMOs (before greasing in DC got them classified as GRAS, like natural foods) found that they contain unique toxins and allergens that would be hard to find and lead to new types of allergies and possibly worse in humans, and that much further testing was required to ascertain the safety of any of them You’re just not told about all these because the chemical-frankenfood companies keep forcing the law to warp its way into opposition to our Constitution and our consumer right to know. You do live in America, right? Are you aware we have a right to know what we’re eating. Say, pseudo-scientific parrot-type, let me ask you a question: if GMOs are so safe, where are all the studies proving that? Or any? DId you ever think to ask that, you vapid, right-surrendering ignoramus, easily fooled by “scientific” talking points and incapable of even ten minutes of your own research into probably the single most important thing you could be informed about?

      • Amber says:

        I think the valiant point is all scientific studies done with lab rats in the U.S. are 90 days long. Repeat: all animal studies done in the US using GMO foods are 90 days long, at the end of which the animals are destroyed. Relevant animal studies using rats eating GMO foods are being done in Europe and the UK, and using animals that live out their normal life span: 3-4 years. All of the animals in UK studies are showing increased diagnoses of cancers, tumors and various endocrine and thyroid diseases. More studies need to be done to determine exactly what is going on with GMO feed, but all current indications are that GMO feed is toxic on a broad scale.

    • Steve Hamm says:

      That’s not the issue, Kevin. The issue is my/our right to know, not whether or not a product tested for a relatively short period of time is safe to consume.

      Plus what about other life forms’ right to life? bt corn kills beneficial insects that help pollinate other foods. Super weeds are proliferating, so now we use more herbicides that get into our watersheds.

      Perhaps you need to think beyond your own self interest and see how we are all connected.

    • Kim says:

      You have not been looking Kevin. The studies are there and scientists have been fired for telling the truth.

    • Anne Temple says:

      Amber is right. Show us a reputable study showing that GMOs are safe for human’s, let alone mammals period. There isn’t one. Do you read? I bet in all of the Monsanto/Syngenta/Cargill/Dow executives homes you won’t find ANY GMO food. I am sure the gardens in their back yards are organic and chemical free. They know how dangerous the stuff is, and they are hoping for idiots like you to keep their dream alive.

    • john says:

      funny but I think you must sleep in the same bed as Monsato

    • hi says:

      So you say you do not know of any studies linking GMO’s to harming of humans- that is all fine and dandy for you but what about our pollinators? I know it is not a direct one but did you think about that one? Danger does not always hit us squarely in the face but rather more often indirectly in ways we do not seen coming.

      The pollinators play a key roll in our food production without them we will lose a vast majority of the diversity within our diets which will cause harm to us humans.
      We would be reduced to a grain (pollinated by wind), dairy and meat diet similar to early pre-colonial European diet rampant with scurvy and sickness. The Europeans (particularly the French) have researched it and I believe “Mother Earth” may have a possible article on it too.
      The Europeans have banned GMO/GE , neoniclinotoeds and their derivatives and now their pollinators are on a rebound. Hummm……..
      Food for thought.

  5. connie says:

    Not surprised. You control the food, you control the people. This is govt taking away our constitutional rights and telling us what we will do, just like Obama care.

  6. Susan Peters says:

    Fine, don’t label. Companies who want our business will and they are who we’ll patronize.

  7. This irrational and criminal action is prevalent in our society. If we are to see the war video games children and adults are playing, it is all against the well being of humanity. If we are to see what happened in Arlington, TX today agains MOMS AGAINST GUNS, it shows how disconnected the males in society are who do not care about their children, their wives, nor society. The minds of these people who are now in pro of preventing labeling have been sickened by the ruling line of thought that has over taken humanity. We need to wake up.

  8. Big business with all their financial backing and lobbying groups are able to manipulate the system to their advantage. This is outrageous! The majority of the American people want GMO labeling. We have a right to know what is in the foods we put into our bodies.

  9. Wayne F. Stiles says:

    I have come to the issue of food safety late in life. I admire the people world wide who are fighting the fight against chemicals and the adulteration of our food supply. I have now witnessed the defeat of two initiatives requiring labeling at the state level. It is interesting the parallels between our national political process and the fight to pass the labeling initiatives. One thing is clear–money talks! And we (the little people) never have enough of it to make a difference. What a sad state of affairs when people can be so easily persuaded by sound bytes. It is time to start using the B-word, yes boycott the companies that sell and those that manufacture these poisons. I mean get down and dirty–spend the money where it counts–in educating people in every way possible to the dangers of this conspiracy against organic food and the promotion of GMOs. Progressive people are so timid, even when their cause is righteous. I am a retired FBI Agent, and believe me I’ve seen it all. If this movement doesn’t get tough, there not only won’t be any winning–there won’t be a movement.

    • Turaj says:

      I agree. We are at war with corporate takeover of our consumer rights. If you don’t hear this FBI agent, hear this: we’ve lost three such state initiatives—all across the West Coast. I was in Oregon ten years ago when the very first such initiative lost. We had over 90% in favor (in fact, people were shocked and outraged to hear that their food was being tampered with in secret at all) and these megacorps bought up all the airwaves, imitated our ads, and even convinced Oregonians that the law was pricey, AND that farmers didn’t support it, when actual Oregonian farmers were hoping for it. I tried to warn the wonderful ladies running the Prop 37 campaign here in California, but although they expected well-funded smear campaigning, they didn’t really appreciate that we are actually at war for our food, with companies who not only want to feed you allergy-producing, stomach-transforming experiments, but ultimately want to own all food in the U.S. by patent. Please, America, wake up. It’s your food.

  10. Kris Milochik says:

    If I understand this situation correctly, we, the people, mostly want mandatory labeling and the industry i.e. Monsanto etc. does not want it. The industry has a significant funding advantage over ‘we, the people’. Not going to be an easy battle. There is no mention at all of manufacturers WILLINGLY labeling their products GMO free. Imagine this….. Top execs of a major breakfast cereal line, decide to begin using only non-GMO ingredients and begin to willingly label products GMO Free. Press release that the company is now able to state ‘GMO Free’on their product labels. Even better if ‘certified’ GMO free. I personally do pay a bit more for items that are certified GMO free. There is an increasing variety of products that are certified GMO free. A small price to pay to avoid being a human lab rat for several large corporations who only care about profit.

  11. Barbara Basham says:

    We need nutritious
    clean food.

  12. Barbara Basham says:

    Guess what. We will not buy the garbage anymore.

  13. ALRUI says:

    Kill the fed not GMO labeling!

  14. Sandi Walters says:

    Everyone cares about food. Not ge tting information

  15. Sue Hogan says:

    After we were defeated on I-522 in our state, it show’s how corrupt GMA/Monsanto (too many to list) are. We were ahead 2 days before the vote by 8%. Then they really started attacking with ads, fliers and commericals, we just didn’t have the to compete with them. They has all the newspapers in their pocket to vote No. The ballots are bought and payed for. With that kind of corruption, how do you win? They play with our health, more money for insurance companies. When you think that 64 other countries can win and here in the U.S. it’s all about money. The goverment is corrupt and until we can clean it up and fight it we will lose. More people need to wake up and say “no more”!

  16. countyguard says:

    All the states have to do is nullify any federal laws that encroach into states rights. tenthamendmentcenter.com is a good place to start, but also creating your own liberty zones at the county or township level. The federal government and corporate food giants do NOT have authority over we, the people, period. They can try to play all the games they want, but all we have to do is withdraw our consent, and say “NO!”

  17. Charla says:

    The Trans Pacific Partnership, a treaty that Obama plans to sign by Dec. 31, will override national laws of member nations and allow corporations to sue in international court when people try to outlaw GMOs, among other big changes.

  18. Meaghan Simpson says:

    WE ARE AT WAR AND TRUTH ABOUT THE TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP SECRET DIRTY DEALS WITH THE DEVIL WHICH BUMMER BOMBED OUT OBAMA IS REALLY TRYING TO “FAST- TRACK” through USA FED CONGRESS AS A “CORPORATE COUP”
    WITHOUT ANY FULL DISCLOSURES TO CONGRESS, TPP CONTENT REVEALED! EVERYONE IN THIS MOVEMENT MUST DO EVERYTHING TO TELL OUR USA FED REPS, NOT TO APPROVE THIS HUGEMONGOUS MONSTER WHICH IS ALOT MORE THAN A ROTTEN TRADE DEAL, OUR NET NUETRALITY AND ACCESS AND AFFORDABILITY OF THE INTERNET FREEDOMS, CREATES CORPORATE SECRET COURTS FOR MEGA CORPS SO CITIZENS WILL NOT BE ABLE TO CHALLENGE BIG OIL, BIG CHEM, BIG MONSANTO, DOW, DUPONT. 600 MEGA CORPS ARE IN CHARGE AND A SURE HORROR OF NEW LOWS FOR GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT, LABOR, FREEDOMS, HEALTH AND SAFETY! WE ARE FACING THE DRAGON’S JAWS OF THE MEGA MONOPOLY MONSTER MADNESS OCCTOPUS OF INSANE, IMMORAL GREED GANGSTERS THUGS ENGAGED TO SUCK ALL THE RESOURCES AND SQUEEZE ALL THE LIFE OUT, COMMITTING CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY AND ALL LIVING THINGS!

    I SAY OUR MOVEMENT IS WEAK AFTER ALL THE DECADES OF TRYING TO GET EVERYTHING ON LABELLING, THE POISON CHEM FERTILIZERS, THE POISON CHEM HERBICIDES, THE POISON CHEM PESTICIDES, AND ADDITIONAL POISONS USED BY PRODUCE MANAGERS WHEN PRODUCE COMES TO MARKET!
    AT THE SAME TIME USA FED GOV TRIED TO OUTLAW HOME FOOD AND HERB GARDENS AND TELL US THAT PHARMACEUTICAL WOULD MAKE AND CONTROL ALL HERBAL LEGAL PRODUCTS AND FOOD SUPPLEMENTS, ONLY SYNTHETIC WEAK STRENGTH
    VITAMINS VIA DOCTOR’S RX!!! Mid 90′s old George Bush senior was when national campaign by FOOD AND WATER we told every produce manager in USA 89% of USA citizens want CERTIED ORGANIC FOOD
    and Produce mgrs told the USDA and the USDA said ok fine, we will label all produce as Certified Organic and that will solve the problem!
    WE THE PEOPLE OF THE USA with our good fed gov reps, FLOODED THE USDA WITH MASSIVE PUBLIC RESPONSE THEY SAY MORE HUGE SACKS OF MAIL ALONE WERE DELIVERED SETTING WORLD RECORDS THEY COULD NOT DENY.. And we have been in a war between real original CCOF – CALIFORNIA Certified Organic Farms
    Strict standards, and the USDA fake “organic” standards that USDA is always cheating and lying and pushing for lower and lower standards.

    I was born in CA 69 years ago to an Organic gardener, earthworm com poster and I helped found and support some of the first health food coops in CA and OR since the ’60′s and we got the battle scars!

    I THINK WE NEED TO TAKE THIS TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL WAY BEYOND NICEY NICE EFFORTS TO JUST GET LABELLING OF GMO CONTENT! DON’T WE NEED TO DO OUR DUE DILLIGENCE TO DEMAND FULL DISCLOSURES OF EVERYTHING SO THE PEOPLE WHO NEED TO LEARN ALL THE MISSING DETAILS ABOUT ALL THE
    KILLER POISONS AND PATENTED SEEDS AND MONSANTO BUYS UP HEIRLOOM ORGANIC SEED COMPANIES TO DEPRIVE THE PUBLIC. The SUPER SCARY TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP IS PART OF THE WORLD TRADE ORDER NASTY DEALS WHICH GIVES MEGA CORPS POWER TO USURP NATIONAL, STATE, COUNTY AND CITY ORDINANCES FOR HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS THAT THREATEN THE MEGA CORPS PROFITS IN ANY. Many prudent aware seasoned persons BELIEVE THAT STOPPING THIS SCAM TO FAST TRACK AND DIGGING DOWN TO THE BOTTOM IN REVIEW LEAVING NO STONE UNTURNED IS MAJOR NECESSARY NOW EVERY MOMENT EVERY BREATH WE TAKE, EVERY MOVE WE MAKE NOW BEFORE OBAMA AND CRONIES FORCE THIS THROUGH!!!
    Check out WikiLeaks just released core content from this TPP Secret dirty deal in the making by 600 corporate criminals ON STEROIDS! It is a global crime in progress and I HOPE some very smart tech savvy people get TOUGH WITH THIS AND KNOW ALL OUR FOOD FREEDOMS ARE AT STAKE AND ALL THE USDA SICK FILTHY UNREGULATED GRIM UGLIES! WHAT ARE WE REALLY DOING WHEN WE NEED TO DEMAND ALL THESE DISCLOSURES ON LABELS AND WE NEED TO BAN EVERYTHING OR WHAT KIND OF BROKEN SICK MESS ARE WE LEAVING TO OUR KIDS AND GRANDKIDS!!!

    Please will others like the FBI retired person please help us get really TOUGH AND TAKE ON THE LIARS, ROBBERS AND KILLERS. WE ARE HERE TO TAKE CARE OF OUR PLANET AND CARE FOR EACH OTHER AND I LOOK EVERYWHERE FOR CONSENSUS TO GET TOUGH LOVE AND RISE UP WITH TRUTH LET OUR FOOD BE OUR MEDICINE AND LET OUR MEDICINE BE OUR FOOD!

  19. Meaghan Simpson says:

    Oh I need to addendum to my previous post about the TRANS Pacific Partnership UNFAIR UNFREE DIRTY ROTTEN GLOBAL DEALS THAT OBAMA AND over 600 Mega Corporations crooks have been secretly planning for at least 3 years. The scum bags want to usurp all rights of our USA FED CONGRESS to EVEN READ THE CONTENT OF THIS TPP CRAP AND OBAMA ASKED FOR VERY ILLEGAL USE OF “the Fast Track” seeks to sneak it through with NO review RIGHT NOW BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR WHILE HE HOPES EVERYONE IS DISTRACTED DURING DECEMBER HOLIDAYS!!!

    THE URGENCY OF THIS CRISIS GOES WAY BEYOND AMAZING DISPLAYS OF BANNERS AND LIGHTS SHOWS WHICH DO BRING INCREASED GRASS ROOTS AWARENESS, BUT WILL NOT EFFECT
    ANY HALTING OF THIS GRIM TPP! DO SEARCH OF ” WikiLeaks release of core text in secret TRANS Pacific Partnership SCAM ROTTEN DEAL OUT TO DESTROY ANY VESTIGE OF DEMOCRACY
    BEFORE END OF THIS YEAR, DEC 31, 2013… The WAR IS ON AND EVERY GMO LABELLING RIGHTS VOTER AND ACTIVIST MUST FOCUS ON CHALLENGING THIS UP FRONT IN THE FACE OF THE BEAST WITH LAZER BEAMS IN THE LIGHT CUTTING TO THE CHASE, pull out all the stops please all you tech and activists savvy geniuses help us find the ways to UNITE IN THE LIGHT IN THIS DARK NIGHT WE ARE PASSING THROUGH ON THIS EARTH WE ARE MANY WHO ARE TRANSFORMING OUR COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS FROM EMPIRE TO EARTH BASED. MANY OTHER NATIONS HAVE CITIZENS IN UNITY FOR THE REAL GARDENS! From what we are learning about this TPP horrors push
    It will make it impossible to demand GMO LABELLING or any other disclosures or maintenance of certified organic values!

  20. Joan Urton says:

    What stores are members of the GMA?

  21. [...] Simon writes that preemptive measures are intended to help standardize regulation across state lines, but the Grocery Manufacturers Association is perverting this purpose by seeking to avoid any regulation: [...]

  22. [...] Junk food lobby wants to make it illegal to label GMOs “Let me repeat that: The junk food lobby’s “federal solution” is to make it illegal for states to pass laws requiring GMO labeling. Period. End of story.” [...]

  23. [...] a campaign to block labeling in the state of Washington. And now recently uncovered documents have revealed that the GMA is plotting a campaign for federal preemption that would permanently block any state [...]

  24. Carrot On A Stick says:

    Meh, I know how extremely toxic GMOs are and have zero care over labeling. I’ve been doing independent research and am writing a book about my finding. Ironically, I have a theory for disease I’ve formulated that would most likely have never have been developed if GMOs were never introduced into the food supply to begin with.

    Point blank, if there is a requirement for GMO labeling or an outright ban on all GMO labeling, the populace loses. All they are doing to providing the illusion that you have a choice. You don’t. How can they guarantee that a food not labeled as GMO is indeed not GMO? For you to believe that requires you to trust them, but there is no trust. It is nothing more than a false sense of security. The core problem is that people are saying there is too much government, yet they are STILL asking for increased government.

    There is more than one way to skin a cat, which states do not have to require GMO labeling. Likewise, they can circumvent any legislation banning GMO labeling. All that is required is for a state governor to declare a ‘specific’ decision based on principle and integrity. No law required, but simply a speech. It wouldn’t be very difficult to convince at least one governor to do so if the ramifications for not doing so are explained thoroughly, as well as the huge rewards… If you take care of your people, your people will take care of you.

    There may very well be an agricultural revolution in the near future. If such a thing occurs, some states will follow suit, some won’t. Those that don’t will be left in the dust and lose any economic superiority they may possess.

  25. [...] is to stop the state level GMO labeling movements “at any cost,” said public health attorney Michele Simon. In reviewing internal documents obtained as a result of the Attorney General’s lawsuit, Simon [...]

  26. [...] secret documents that I uncovered in November, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (aka food industry lobbyists) laid out its [...]

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