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genetic engineering

Fast Track and labeling GMOs

The "fast track" legislation will NOT prevent us from passing legislation to require the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.
This message is a repost from the campaign to label genetically engineered foods nationally.
If you're interested in the campaign to label GE foods here in Oregon visit www.labelgefoods.org

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Dear Health Freedom Fighters,

On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority Act of 2001 (H.R. 3005), otherwise know as "fast track" legislation, by a one vote margin.

President Bush pushed hard on the Republican-controlled House to grant him "fast track" authority.

This "fast track" legislation gives the President the ability to negotiate trade agreements that the U.S. Congress can not modify. When a "fast track" trade agreement is presented to Congress, they either need
to accept it or reject it.

For the pass few months there has been misinformation being circulated on the Internet about how the passage of "fast track" could make it illegal to pass legislation to label genetically engineered foods in the United States. The Campaign has previously stated that this is not accurate. The "fast track" legislation will NOT prevent us from passing legislation to require the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.

The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods does not support passage of "fast track" because of several reasons. Besides containing language favorable to the agricultural biotech industry, there are concerns that "fast track" could undermine environmental and labor protections.

The "fast track" legislation passed the House of Representatives on a highly partisan vote. Most of the Republicans voted for it and most of the Democrats opposed it.

Next it goes to the U.S. Senate where we hope it will be defeated. Unlike the House, the Senate is currently under Democratic leadership. So President Bush may have a harder time getting Senate approval than he had in the House of Representatives.

Regarding "fast track" and genetically engineered foods, the Center for Food Safety has produced an "Analysis & Interpretation of the Bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority Act of 2001 (H.R. 3005) Provision Addressing Reciprocal Trade in Agriculture & GMOs."

That analysis (posted below) explains why the "fast track" legislation will not prohibit the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods in the United States.

Craig Winters
Executive Director
The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods
www.thecampaign.org

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This legal analysis was provided by the Center for Food Safety.
 http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org

Analysis & Interpretation of the
Bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority Act of 2001 (H.R. 3005)
Provision Addressing Reciprocal Trade in Agriculture & GMOs

On December 6, 2001, the U.S. House of Representative passed H.R. 3005, the "Bipartisan Trade promotion Authority Act of 2001" (i.e. "Fast Track"), by the margin of 215 to 214. Similar legislation is likely to be voted on in the U.S. Senate in early 2002. Within the House-passed
legislation is a provision relating to trade objectives and the labeling of genetically engineered food. The following is a brief analysis of that provision.

Brief Conclusion

If passed by the Senate and sign into law, the Fast Track provision would not prohibit the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods in the United States.

Analysis and Interpretation

The Fast Track bill states that a principal objective of U.S. agricultural trade policy is to protect its markets and advance its exports by trying to eliminate "unjustified trade barriers" such as "labeling" on new technologies, including "biotechnology." The language speaks directly to Congressional objectives but does not create positive
law. At its worst, this language could be seen as U.S. intent to prevent (through bi-lateral negotiations or otherwise) foreign countries "unjustified" labeling of genetically engineered foods. Significantly,
the bill does not define "unjustified." As a result, it is not sufficient to show Congressional intent to eliminate (or prevent)justified labeling of genetically engineered foods in this or any other country.

Excerpted Text of Bill

(b) Principal Trade Negotiating Objectives.--

(10) Reciprocal trade in agriculture.-- (A) The principal negotiating objective of the United States with respect to agriculture is to obtain competitive opportunities for United States exports of agricultural commodities in foreign markets substantially equivalent to the
competitive opportunities afforded foreign exports in United States markets and to achieve fairer and more open conditions of trade in bulk, specialty crop, and value-added commodities by--

(viii) developing, strengthening, and clarifying rules and effective dispute settlement mechanisms to eliminate practices that unfairly decrease United States market access opportunities or distort agricultural markets to the detriment of the United States, particularly with respect to import-sensitive products, including ---

(I) unfair or trade-distorting activities of state trading enterprises and other administrative mechanisms, with emphasis on requiring price transparency in the operation of state trading enterprises and such other mechanisms in order to end cross subsidization, price discrimination, and price undercutting;

(II) unjustified trade restrictions or commercial requirements, such as labeling, that affect new technologies, including biotechnology; . . .

homepage: homepage: http://www.labelgefoods.org