Sec. Vilsack Offers Perspective on GMO Labeling

Greg Trotter reported late last week at the Chicago Tribune Online that, “Immediately after U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack concluded his remarks at the Good Food Festival in Chicago Thursday, he was approached by a couple of admirers — and one ardent supporter of GMO labeling who wanted to bend the politician’s ear.

“The debate on labeling products that contain GMOs — genetically modified organisms — has roiled the food and agriculture industries in recent weeks. Many consumers say they have a right to know what’s in their food; those opposed to labeling say it gives the wrong impression the food is unsafe.”

The article noted that, “In a brief interview, Vilsack, a former two-term governor of Iowa, lamented the debate that’s divided the farming community.”

(Recall that Sec. Vilsack also addressed this issue publicly earlier this month).

The Tribune “Q and A” with Sec. Vilasck included this transaction:

“Q: Were you disappointed the bill stalled in the Senate?

“A: I’m disappointed because I think it’s an opportunity at this point in time to bring agriculture together as opposed to continuing this dispute within agriculture.

“So it was a disappointment in that respect. I think it’s also going to create a confusing mixture of ways in which individual companies and individual states are going to approach this issue. I think it begs for some sort of standardization. And I’m hoping that despite the setback that folks in the Senate don’t stop working on this issue and figure out a way to reach common ground.

“Q: Do you think that’s realistic before July 1, before Vermont’s law goes into effect?

“A: I think it’s certainly possible and doable if people spend the time and are willing to understand that they’re not going to get everything they want. That’s the nature of compromise. We seem to have lost the art of compromise in this country, which I think is unfortunate.”

(Recall that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) has noted that it will be difficult to reach an agreement before this summer).

During the Tribune “Q and A” Sec. Vilsack also stated that, “We need to increase innovation and productivity here and around the world, in order to meet the demand for food. I don’t think there’s a full appreciation for how much food we’re going to have to produce to be able to feed 9 billion people. … (Global food security) is an enormous problem that we have got to face and America’s got to lead. And America is leading, but part of that is making sure we have adequate resources and agricultural research.”

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