July 24, 2014 — As more states require labeling of foods made with genetically modified ingredients, Congress is being pressured to pass a law regulating the controversial
technology found in much of the U.S. food supply.
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) continues to track the issue both from a policy and marketing standpoint after legislation was introduced to mandate the labeling of GMO’s, which NMPF opposes.
“We do support a contradictory bill that would establish a voluntary labeling system so that if companies did want to provide absence claims there is a process for doing so,” NMPF’s Chris Galen told DairyLine. “We support that legislation but that also looks like it won’t get through Congress yet.”
The House Agriculture Committee held a hearing to learn why farmers use GMO’s. A Vermont dairy farmer testified prompting NMPF to urge more farmers do the same because of the mounting pressure from the marketplace.
“We’re still seeing a lot of pressure being brought to bear on companies like Starbucks to disavow the use of GMO’s in the production of milk that goes into their coffee,” Galen said. “We’re seeing big dairy companies like Ben & Jerry’s make decisions to source some of their ingredients from GMO free supplies.”
Farmers are the best messengers when they communicate, not just the benefits of using GMO grains and oil seeds, but also explaining the meaning of GMO use to consumers. That’s because a lot of people assume that GMO’s only benefit Monsanto and that anyone who uses GMO’s is a factory farm.
“That’s why we need people like this Vermont farmer who testified in Congress, who is a small producer but still sees some benefits in at least having the choice of using GMO’s,” Galen said. “If we don’t get that message communicated then there is going to be fewer choices for farmers as well as consumers.”
To help farmers, NMPF and Dairy Management Incorporated (DMI) are training farmers this week to enhance their ability on social media and better communicate where food comes from, how it is produced, and who produces it. GMO’s are a front burner issue but there are other issues out there like antibiotics, growth hormones, and the argument between conventional food production and organic.
“We need to make certain we have the right tools in the hands of the right people to help carry those messages,” Galen concluded.