Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jane Smiley sent us this explanation she received from Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, in response to a note inquiring about the Senator’s recent “pro-Monsanto” vote:
Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about genetically modified (GM) food labeling and, in particular, about the amendment to the Farm Bill (S.954) offered by Senator Sanders, Senate Amendment #965. I share your concerns about the need for more transparency about the food we eat and I believe that consumers will be best served by a comprehensive approach to food labeling. I support GM food labeling and the rights of states to set labeling standards that speak to the concerns of their citizens. I also believe there are many benefits to a comprehensive national labeling policy and, when assessing legislative proposals to change labeling requirements, I carefully consider whether the proposal would bring us closer to a comprehensive, national, and transparent food labeling system. While I support the purpose behind Senator Sanders’ amendment, I voted no because I have concerns about how the proposal could have operated to prevent the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from enforcing a strong, pro-consumer, national labeling standard against states in the future. I also worry that the amendment would have opened the door for states to label certain types of GM food and not others, creating a deceptive labeling system where consumers would face even more uncertainty about what is in the food they eat.
Instead of undermining potential future efforts at the FDA to require GM labeling, I believe we need to push the FDA to use its authority to establish a national GM national labeling standard. That is why I am proud to have cosponsored Senate Amendment #1025, an amendment to the Farm Bill introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer to pressure the FDA to create such a national labeling standard. While the amendment ultimately did not receive a vote during the Farm Bill debate, I will continue to work with my colleagues toward a comprehensive approach to GM food labeling.
I very much appreciate your input on this important issue. I will keep your concerns in mind as the debate on this issue continues. Please do not hesitate to contact my office in the future if we can be of help on other issues of importance to you.