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US Industry Leaders Reject Mandatory Labeling Of GMOs and Asbestos

By Theodora Filis

US citizens were appalled when the Japanese government attempted to conceal vital information from the rest of the world in order to save face and maintain the status quo. Last week, ABC World News reported, “A subcontractor urged workers at Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant to put lead around radiation detection devices in order to stay under a safety threshold for exposure.”

Does the US have the right to be shocked or angered by TEPCO's cover up, or by the Japanese government knowingly, and seemingly without regard, concealing the horrible fate of many Fukushima plant workers?

Not if you consider the disregard for human life that has been going on for decades by industry leaders and our own government.

o Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) took action against the use of asbestos in many consumer products, asbestos is still not banned and is still widely used today in consumer and industrial products in the US.

o An article published in the New York Times, in May of this year, completely bypasses the issue of honest labeling and how it is vital in any free republic, but instead focuses on the fact that “farmers and scientists” are opposed to labeling because consumers will refuse to purchase foods labeled “Contains GMOs”.

The argument that mandatory labeling will decrease consumer interest only serves as an example as to why all consumer products and materials must be labeled.

Because of the many people dying today as a result of exposure to asbestos, and an increasing number of people reporting severe allergic reactions to GMOs, it is vital that a policy of full transparency be put in place so that all consumers can make informed purchasing decisions.

The 2012 Mineral Commodity Summary for Asbestos from the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported:

o Asbestos consumption in the US was estimated to be 1,100 tons, based on asbestos imports through July 2011.

o Roofing products were estimated to account for about 60% of US consumption;

o The chloralkali industry about 35%;

o and unknown applications, 5% – usually classified as 'other'.

Current uses of asbestos products include brake pads, automobile clutches, roofing materials, vinyl tile, cement piping, corrugated sheeting, home insulation and some potting soils. Even today, almost none of the products containing asbestos are labeled as such, making it difficult for consumers to choose products that are asbestos-free.

"The extent of current asbestos product labeling is limited. Except for products which are sold unwrapped, such as mill board; and asbestos-cement sheet, all products are labeled with the name of the manufacturer or distributor. Only asbestos paper and furnace cement are labeled as containing asbestos. Non-asbestos substitutes for all asbestos products are widely available to the public for household uses." CPSC

Mandatory Labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the US has been an ongoing struggle between consumers and the biotech industry. Monsanto and Co., one of the largest producers and suppliers of GMOs in the US and worldwide, actually threatened to sue the entire state of Vermont because they wanted to regulate food labels so consumers can be aware of the products made from GMO crops. Despite overwhelming support from the people and their elected representatives, GMO labeling bill H722, failed to become law during this legislative session.
“With Vermont legislators now standing in the way of what could mean even more money for Monsanto, the company says they will sue the state if H-722 is approved. Now in fear of a lawsuit in the future, lawmakers in Vermont have put a hold on any future voting regarding the bill. If history is any indication, Monsanto is more than likely to have their way and win yet another battle.” reported Tanya Sitton

California, the 8th largest economy in the world, is hoping to be the first state with mandatory GMO labeling laws through the 2012 California Ballot Initiative process. Labeling laws in CA will effect packaging and ingredient decisions nation-wide. If passed, Monsanto will not only be forced to label their products as GMOs, but it will also make them unable to label their products as “natural,” “naturally made,” “naturally grown” or “all natural,” if, in fact, they are not. 

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