Let’s Gore an Ox

Perhaps it was a shot across the bow in an election season. However, in my opinion, Senator Ayotte has not shown any favor to the consumers or citizens of New Hampshire beyond the Republican favored 1% so after becoming incensed at a clearly Big Ag ploy to controvert the States that do actively try to support their citizens (Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut) I sent this note:

Honorable Senator Ayotte, 

Oh where oh where have all the Republicans gone? 

How should I interpret Senator Roberts’ draft legislation: 

To amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a national voluntary labeling standard for bioengineered foods, and for other purposes 

Is the Republican Party taking aim at destroying States’ Rights?  

Where does this shill for Big Ag think he is coming from?  

At what point in time will the Republican Party start to voice the concerns of the food consuming public or are you folks all about getting Mexico to pay for a fence (aka Maginot Line) and whatever else Big Business wants? 

Of course States could ban the sale of products with GMO material unless those items are voluntarily stated clearly on the label; that wouldn’t contradict your Business Proposed Label Law; unless of course you also plan to regulate intrastate commerce.

Okay, so there were a few cheap shots in there, face it, building a fence along our southern border wouldn’t be as effective as the Maginot Line. I did get the following response from Senator Ayotte:

Thank you for contacting me regarding bioengineered food.  I appreciate hearing from you.

As you may know, on March 16, 2016, the Senate voted on a measure put forth by Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) which would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish a national voluntary labeling standard for bioengineered food within one year.  Further, the measure would require USDA to establish a framework for how the Administration will require “substantial participation” of food products in the voluntary labeling system to allow consumers more information about their food.  Specifically, the measure requires that if 70 percent of food products are not participating in the voluntary system within two years that USDA shall establish a national mandatory labeling standard for bioengineered food.

After hearing from New Hampshire food and agriculture stakeholders who raised serious concerns about the implications that a patchwork of state labeling laws would have on interstate commerce, as well as on consumers who could experience increased prices because of those different laws, I supported a procedural motion to advance consideration of the measure.  You may be interested to know that New Hampshire Department of Agriculture Commissioner Lorraine Merrill has warned that, “…state by state patchworks of biotechnology food labeling laws are chaotic for commerce, difficult to enforce and will deliver many unintended consequences,” and Commissioner Merrill supported the measure put forward on the Senate floor.  Going forward, I will continue to work with my colleagues to find a commonsense path forward on a bioengineered food labeling system that will provide consumers with more information.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me.  It is important for me to hear from you regarding the current issues affecting New Hampshire and our nation.  Please do not hesitate to be in touch again if I may be of further assistance.

Sincerely,

Kelly A. Ayotte
U. S. Senator

Sounds like a well thought out plan and it even has the support of our New Hampshire Department of Agriculture Commissioner. There is a provision that makes GMO labeling mandatory if 70% of food products are not in compliance, if you have a negative bent then 30% of our food products and their nefarious producers will get a pass. What I found most interesting was the lack of dialogue on States’ Rights, actually that is a pass as the Senator completely avoided it. Also the lack of dialogue on why not simply give the people what they want, truth in labeling, wine labels have to disclose if the wine contains added sodium nitrate so what’s the fuss over adding contains GMOs on a label?

I would love to see a detailed example of how a voluntary labeling system would provide me with more information. I don’t believe the Mexicans will pay for any wall so I have a little trouble with this Republican claim as well.

It also smacks of a delaying tactic, hoping that the Republicans will take the White House and control Congress so they can make this labeling issue, supported by 90% of the population, go away. I am not a scientist (that makes me a republican) but I am suspicious of the benefits claimed for GMOs. If they were really that beneficial than you would expect companies to broadcast far and wide that their product contains the Newest, Best GMOs available on the market. Maybe GMOs have a bad image and need quality public relations efforts. As I said, I am not a crook scientist, I have just found when dealing with salespeople that what is not said is more important and with all the money and lobbying being thrown against labeling GMOs I simply smell a rat.

If State Commissioner Merrill is so concern about all the variances from State to State, then would she also support a move to disband State Agriculture Commissions and let the FDA/USDA rule? Wouldn’t that be more logical for Big Ag?

Should we discuss Insurance Commissions? Wouldn’t voter registration be better, at least simpler, if the Federal Government was in control? Will Senator Ayotte champion a Value Added Tax to replace the patchwork of State Sales and Use Tax regulations?

Regarding the Senator’s justification “. . . the implications that a patchwork of state labeling laws would have on interstate commerce, as well as on consumers who could experience increased prices because of those different laws, I supported a procedural motion to advance consideration of the measure. ” Anyone who likes wine knows that the best prices and especially variety are online (even if you include New Hampshire 8.5% sales import tax fee for doing nothing at all which passed when Senator Ayotte was our Attorney General) but many vendors don’t ship to New Hampshire because of the license fee, processing and collecting the 8.5% assessment cost, and reporting costs. Gee, wouldn’t it be easier if the Federal Government regulated the interstate sales of wine? Wouldn’t we as consumers benefit from lower regulatory and compliance costs? Yes, I am familiar with the 17th Amendment as well as how a concerted effort by our politicians could get that modified.

Next time you buy a soda in New Hampshire or any other state without a Bottle Tax take a look at the label and how they have managed to accommodate those who have a bottle tax with those who don’t. How hard would it be to label your products, to avoid unnecessary inventory and product costs, by simply labeling the products to comply with the 4 food consumer friendly States and sell that product in the other 46 as well? It all comes down to consumers want to know what is in their food and Big Ag Republicans don’t want you to know.

I worked at regulatory and legislative lobbying for a brief time, that limited experience helped me create a theory on people’s’ ability to govern:

An individual’s ability to affect laws and regulations is inversely proportional to the square of that individual’s distance away from those making the laws or regulations. 

In plain English, if you live in Alaska or northern Maine or New Hampshire, you’re screwed. Large businesses understand this theory and hire lobbyists for Washington DC as well as each State Capitol, the rest of us can only open a window and rant into the verse.

 

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