Hoosier Farmers and Families Need the Senate to Stand Up for Science

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Indiana families will be hurt with higher costs if a group of anti-science activists get mandatory "warning" labeling laws on foods with genetically modified organisms passed in states around the country.

These misguided efforts to label GMOs are going on despite the fact that the world’s leading health and regulatory authorities, including the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences and over 2,000 peer-reviewed studies, have concluded that genetically modified foods are safe for human consumption.

These laws could drive up the cost of food by $500 per family, according to a study by a Cornell University professor.

That’s why we need Senators Joe Donnelly and Dan Coats to act quickly to support the bipartisan Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which passed the House earlier this summer with a strong 275-150 vote – including support from 45 House Democrats and seven of the nine members of the Indiana delegation. In addition, it is also notable that the House overwhelming rejected by a three-to-one margin a proposal to mandate GMO labeling across the country.

Farmers have been purposefully altering the genetic makeup of crops and livestock since domestic agriculture began thousands of years ago. Even the Mayan civilization adopted early hybrids of corn for better cultivation and higher yields.

GMOs allow today’s farmers to be better stewards of the environment. Cultivating genetically modified (GM) crops requires less water, uses less land and necessitates less pesticide use than conventional crops. In fact, according to a recent study, GM crops reduce pesticide use by 37 percent.

Because GM crops require fewer resources, they cost farmers less to cultivate and produce higher yields – translating to lower costs for grocery shoppers and American families. Biotechnology is a critical tool to help Indiana farmers meet the growing demand for food, with GM foods feeding over 300 million Americans.

That’s why a patchwork of state labeling laws would wreak havoc on Indiana and on our national food supply. Indiana farmers could soon have to face confusing new mandates, requiring them to segregate GM and conventional crops and establish separate manufacturing facilities depending on what state their products were being delivered to. 

The U.S. food supply system needs a national approach to food labeling so people have consistent rules on labels no matter where they live or shop. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act would ensure that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration remain the authority in food labeling – a responsibility they’ve retained for over 100 years. The bill would also create a uniform national standard for GMO-free labels which companies could opt in to – similar to the popular USDA-Certified Organic program.

Anti-GMO groups are waging a misinformation campaigned aimed at demonizing this common technology, with families and Hoosier farmers in the crosshairs. It is imperative that the Senate pass a uniform standard for the country.

The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act is supported by nearly 500 organizations, from farmers to food banks, who understand the impact a state patchwork of food labeling laws would have on our national food supply system.  We need Senators Donnelly and Coats to stand up for science and work win approval of this common-sense legislation. 

Dave Lowe is a farmer from Dunkirk, Ind. and serves as president of the Indiana Soybean Alliance. Herb Ringel is a farmer from Wabash, Ind. and is president of the Indiana Corn Growers Association. Learn more at www.indianasoybean.com and www.incorn.org. 

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