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National Sea Grant College Program Amendments Act of 2015

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WELCH. Mr. Speaker, a little background on this bill.

This started in Vermont, where there was a strong citizen movement to have the right to know what was in their food. It was not a battle about the science of GMOs or about whether it was healthy or not. It was really based on the proposition that for a consumer who wishes to know what is in their food, whether it is the number of calories or whether it is GMO-produced, they had a right to know. It is as simple as that.

The irony here is that the pushback has been from folks who are advocating the benefits of GMOs. If they are so great--and I am not disputing what some of their benefits may be--why not brag about it by putting it on the label? Why hide it? It really doesn't make a lot of sense.

In Vermont, we had a bipartisan vote in the Senate 28-2 and a strong, bipartisan vote in the House that was based upon the right of Vermonters who wanted to know whether there were GMOs to have that knowledge.

There was a lot of pushback initially by industry, but some of the industry has kind of got it right: if the consumer wants to know, let them know. Kellogg's and Campbell Soup both now have labeling on their products and let the consumers know. What is really the big deal?

Now we have a bill from the Senate that, frankly, when you look at it, it is kind of dumb, because what it does is give options on how you ``label.'' You can use English, where right on the label you can read ``GMOs'' or not. That makes sense.

But then there is another mechanism where there is, like, a barcode. You have to go to the store with your iPhone, scan the barcode--by the way, when you are grocery shopping, you are trying to get home, get dinner on, you have kids that are trying to go to a school practice. And you are supposed to stop and scan the barcode and go to a Web site to see whether that can of black bean soup has GMOs or not?

The other option you can have is you can, in the middle of the store, dial a 1-800 number, get a call center, probably overseas, and talk to somebody and ask them whether this can of soup that you are holding 5,000 miles away from the person you are talking to contains GMOs or not.


Mr. WELCH. So we have this situation where, in the Senate bill that we are now considering, there is an acknowledgment that there should be a label, but it contains a label that is impossible to read.

So if there is an acknowledgment about the right of a consumer to have access to the information, why not give them the information in plain and simple English? We don't have to do dumb end-arounds in order to give consumers the information they are seeking.

That is the essence of the opposition to this bill. Make it simple, keep it simple, and let people know what it is they are buying so they can make the decision.


Mr. WELCH. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.

The yeas and nays were ordered.


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