Free-Market Advocates Support Roberts-Stabenow Labeling Bill

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SupportRobertsStabenow(Click here for PDF)

July 13, 2016

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker of the House
H-232, United States Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Speaker:

We, the following pro-growth, pro-innovation, free-market advocates, ask the House of Representatives to immediately take up and pass the common-sense biotech labeling bill that recently passed in the Senate by a 63-30 vote. This bipartisan agreement—Roberts-Stabenow—will establish a national labeling standard that will protect consumers, advance market-based principles, and support sound science.

We want to make it absolutely clear that this legislation will prevent the proliferation of costly, unconstitutional state-based labeling mandates. To date, more than 50 bills have been introduced in dozens of states to require the labeling of genetically modified foods, or GMOs. A Vermont law took effect on July 1. If Congress fails to act, Vermont and other states following suit will upend the nation’s entire market system for food, from farming to supply to retail.

GMOs are among the most analyzed subjects in science. With thousands of global studies affirming safety, the science over GM foods is unquestionably settled. The world’s most prestigious science, health, and academic institutions have confirmed and re-confirmed that GMO science does not pose a risk to our health, and GM foods are as safe and/or safer than conventional or organic foods.

Yet, activists—like those in Vermont—still sound the anti-GMO alarm, and their failure to consider the science when advocating policy betrays their true agenda. The activists’ ultimate goal is not “freedom of choice” or the “right-to-know” for consumers, as they claim, but to drive GM foods out of the market.

An economy based on free enterprise requires a consistent, national labeling solution to maximize the consumer’s right-to-know and allow for competition and innovation to thrive. The alternative of state-based mandates will undermine the market resulting in higher prices and fewer choices for all Americans. The House must act to pass this critical, market-based proposal to protect farmers, families, and businesses. If not, anti-GMO activists will continue to stigmatize biotech science through their organized, yet deceitful, campaign of state-based labeling mandates.

We urge the House of Representatives to approve the Roberts-Stabenow legislation this week before the August recess.

Thank you,
Jerry Rogers – President, Capitol Allies
Andrew Langer – President, Institute for Liberty
Pete Sepp – President, National Taxpayers Union
George Landrith – President, Frontiers of Freedom
Seton Motley – President, Less Government

Roberts-Stabenow: Sound Science/Free Enterprise

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Sound Science Free Enterprise Biotech Labeling Bill (Click here for PDF)

Washington, DC –  Capitol Allies (CapAllies) applauds the United States Senate for passing a common-sense Biotech Labeling bill that will protect consumers, advance market-based principle, and support sound science.

CapAllies urges the House of Representatives to approve the legislation next week before the August recess.

Jerry Rogers, president and founder of Capitol Allies, made the following statement supporting the Roberts-Stabenow labeling bill as it moves to the House:

“We want to make it absolutely clear that this legislation will prevent the proliferation of costly, unconstitutional state-based labeling mandates. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are among the most analyzed subjects in science. With over 2,000 global studies affirming safety, the science over GM foods is unquestionably settled. The world’s most prestigious science, health, and academic institutions have confirmed and re-confirmed over again that GMO science does not pose a risk to our health, and GM foods are as safe and/or safer than conventional or organic foods.”

“If over 100 of the world’s leading scientists and Nobel Laureates can take a stand against those who actively campaign against the use of GM  crops, it is our hope that the House of Representatives will do the same by voting ‘yea’ on Roberts-Stabenow as soon as next week.”

“A patchwork of state-based labeling regimes would create mass confusion among consumers and cause food prices to skyrocket. Such state mandates would cause an explosion of big-government cronyism.”   

Capitol Allies was established to turn policy into practice. Our work is to advance ideas and policies supportive of free enterprise, economic growth, and sound science.

# # #

Media Contact: Jerry Rogers 202.302.9783 / jerry@capallies.com

 Jerry Rogers is the founder of Capitol Allies, an independent, nonpartisan effort that promotes free enterprise, and he’s the co-host of  The LangerCast on the RELM Network.

Update: Roberts-Stabenow

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Click here and join us for a segment where Andrew and Jerry discuss GMO labeling on Episode #106 of the LangerCast:

LangerCast on the RELM network: Roberts-Stabenow

Jerry and Andrew discuss S-764, or the Roberts-Stabenow bill, creating a national labeling standard that will protect consumers, advance conservative principle, and support sound science.

The National Academies of Science, in a 400-page report on GMOs released in May 2016, concluded that there is “no substantiated evidence that foods from GE [genetically engineered] crops were less safe than foods from non-GE crops.”

To date, more than 50 bills have been introduced in dozens of states to require the labeling of genetically modified foods, or GMOs. Vermont’s law took effect on July 1. If Congress fails to act, Vermont and the myriad others following suit will upend the nation’s entire food system, from farming to supply to retail.

Academic and scientific studies over the past 30 years – by such groups as the World Health Organization, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Academies of Science – have said, unequivocally, that GM foods are safe and healthy. Studies have concluded that GMOs are as safe as, or safer than, conventional or organic foods.

GMOs now make up a major part of the American diet: 60-70 percent of all food on supermarket shelves is GMO. So the issue of labeling needs to be addressed in a manner that defers to sound science. An alternative to the state-based food police is a national standard. If the Anti-GMO activists were truly interested in science and consumer safety, they would aggressively support this approach.

A patchwork of state labeling requirements would create mass confusion among consumers and cause food prices to skyrocket.  GMOs are among the most analyzed subjects in science. With over 2,000 global studies affirming safety, the science over GM foods is unquestionably settled. The world’s most prestigious science, health, and academic institutions have confirmed and re-confirmed over again that GMO science does not pose a risk to our health, and GM foods are as safe and/or safer than conventional or organic foods. In an overview of the last 10 years of genetically engineered crop safety research, scientists could not find a single instance where GMO food posed any harm to humans or animals. GMOs are safe and healthy, period.

Capitol Allies (CapAllies) applauds Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) for the bipartisan agreement on a national GMO labeling standard. The Senate must still give final approval to the new agreement, and then it will need to be passed by the House of Representatives before going to the President.

The Senate could vote as early as this evening.

Media Alert: Bipartisan Agreement on National GMO labeling Standard

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Roberts-Stabenow Labeling Agreement

Washington DC –  Capitol Allies (CapAllies) applauds Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) for the bipartisan agreement on a national GMO labeling standard. The Senate voted 68-29 on a procedural move that will allow for a final vote on the Roberts-Stabenow agreement after July 5.  The Senate must still give final approval to the new agreement, and then it will need to be passed by the House of Representatives before going to the President.

The bi-partisan legislation will prevent states and municipalities from creating chaos with food labeling laws intended to stifle science and ban biotechnology.

“A patchwork of state labeling requirements would create mass confusion among consumers and cause food prices to skyrocket.  Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are among the most analyzed subjects in science. With over 2,000 global studies affirming safety, the science over GM foods is unquestionably settled. The world’s most prestigious science, health, and academic institutions have confirmed and re-confirmed over again that GMO science does not pose a risk to our health, and GM foods are as safe and/or safer than conventional or organic foods. In an overview of the last 10 years of genetically engineered crop safety research, scientists could not find a single instance where GMO food posed any harm to humans or animals. GMOs are safe and healthy, period,” says Jerry Rogers, president and founder of CapAllies.

The anti-GMO activists want a protracted “death-by-a-thousand-cuts” campaign to establish state-based labeling regimes. Joseph Mercola, an alternative-medicine advocate, has said, “GM foods must be banned entirely, but labeling is the most efficient way to achieve this.” Veteran activist and organizer Ronnie Cummins has called the EU’s labeling laws “the crucial blow to GMOs.” The activists are looking to ban science, not promote the “right-to-know.”

As a Vermont labeling law is set to take hold on July 1 (enforcement to start in January 2017), this new biotech food labeling legislation will allow a consistent, national labeling policy to govern our food chain. Such a national policy will inform consumers, protect sound science, and advance market principles.

Capitol Allies was established to turn policy into practice. Our work is to advance ideas and policies supportive of free enterprise, economic growth, sound science, and property rights.

# # #

Media Contact: Jerry Rogers 202.302.9783 / jerry@capallies.com

 Jerry Rogers is the founder of Capitol Allies, an independent, nonpartisan effort that promotes free enterprise, and he’s the co-host of  The LangerCast on the RELM Network.

Food Bans, the 1st Amendment, & much more

LangerCast

Click here and join us for Episode #105 of the LangerCast:

The LangerCast on the RELM network: Episode #105

Andrew and Jerry talk politics, policy, music, and culture  … this week, among other topics like the Supreme Court’s recent rulings, we break down the misguided proposal by Maine Governor Paul LePage to use the government to ban “unhealthy” foods and the First Liberty Institute’s Defense of Religious liberty.

A retired Air Force NCO is forcibly removed from another’s retirement ceremony. His crime? Daring to utter the word “God” during a flag-folding speech! We talk to Mike Berry from the First Liberty Institute about the case of Oscar Rodriguez, and the good work of First Liberty. We talk food policy, and Maine Governor Paul LePage, as well as more on the Philly Soda Tax!

Governor Paul LePage’s Food Police

Some in the political class believe that solving nutritional issues is the responsibility of the government. However, banning certain foods will not make people healthier; it will not save taxpayer money; and it will not reform entitlements. Instead, the food-police will disrupt the free market and create government food bureaucracies.

If the precedent is set that the government on the basis of public health has the authority to monitor the food choices of the poor, Governor LePage will set us down a slippery slope toward the food-police regulating and keeping watch over the diets of all Americans.

Oscar Rodriguez Assaulted and Dragged Out of Retirement Ceremony

From First Liberty, “Oscar Rodriguez, Jr. is a decorated Air Force veteran who has delivered a patriotic flag-folding speech over 100 times at civic and military events. In March 2016, a retiring service member asked Rodriguez to deliver the flag-folding speech at his retirement ceremony, to be held at Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento. Rodriguez agreed, but when he began the speech, uniformed Airmen assaulted him, physically dragged him out of the ceremony, and kicked him off the military base because the speech included the word “God.” First Liberty Institute sent a letter to the United States Air Force on June 20, 2016, demanding justice for Rodriguez, and for those responsible to be held accountable.”

Food Fight in Maine

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Maine Gov. Paul LePage is challenging the federal government over how to administer the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps. Under the guise of reforming SNAP, Maine’s Republican governor wants to monitor what poor people eat and drink. The governor wants to create a state-based “food-police” to control what Maine’s poorest citizens put in their grocery bags.

Why should we trust that food bans in Maine won’t spread to other states or to the feds? If your poor food choices impact the cost of my insurance premium, why shouldn’t there be a national food-police restricting the diets of all Americans? If consuming less of an unhealthy food is good for poor people, consuming less of an unhealthy food is good for all people. Public health advocates will look at food bans in SNAP as a model for national efforts to restrict the food choices of all Americans.

Some in the political class believe that solving nutritional issues is the responsibility of the government. However, banning certain foods will not make people healthier; it will not save taxpayer money; and it will not reform entitlements. Instead, the food-police will disrupt the free market and create government food bureaucracies

Public health advocates believe that Americans are unable to make responsible decisions about the food and beverages we consume. Conservative advocates and elected officials should stand against paternalistic policies aimed at our diets, and trust the American people to decide for ourselves what is healthy or unhealthy. Food monitoring and restrictions violate individual liberty, and create a gateway for more government intrusion into our lives. Food surveillance is not entitlement reform, and it is not going to make Americans any healthier – as if that’s the government’s business anyway.

Conservatives should reject proposals to leverage government agencies (like the USDA) to interfere so deeply in the personal choices of Americans. Monitoring what some Americans put in their grocery carts is decidedly bad policy and anathema to conservative values.

Whether it’s under the guise of entitlement reform or public health, some politicians may favor food monitoring and restrictions because it’s an easy way to mislead voters to think they’re being good stewards of taxpayer money. But, food restrictions in SNAP will create a food bureaucracy mimicking the complexity of other regulatory boondoggles. Bureaucrats will have to analyze and categorize the 300,000 food and beverage products on the market now and the additional 15,000 food items introduced every year.

If the precedent is set that the government on the basis of public health has the authority to monitor the food choices of the poor, Governor LePage will set us down a slippery slope toward the food-police regulating and keeping watch over the diets of all Americans.

Media Alert: Food Labeling

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National GMO Labeling Standard

Washington, D.C. — Capitol Allies (CapAllies), an independent, nonpartisan effort that promotes free enterprise, and its partners urge Congress to reach a bipartisan agreement on a national GMO labeling standard before Vermont’s GMO labeling mandate takes effect on July 1.

Time is running out. After the Senate approves a bill, the House of Representatives must also pass the Senate legislation in quick time. The House is out of session the last week of June leaving only five legislative days remaining.

CapAllies agrees with the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food: “We need a uniform national solution to eliminate the potential confusion and costly red tape associated with the growing, 50-state patchwork of mandatory state labeling laws that could raise the cost of food for families by up to $1,050 per year.”

“To date, more than 50 bills have been introduced in dozens of states to require the labeling of genetically modified foods, or GMOs. Vermont’s law takes effect on July 1. If Congress fails to act, Vermont and the myriad others following suit will upend the nation’s entire food system, from farming to supply to retail,” said Jerry Rogers, CapAllies president, in a segment on the LangerCast on the RELM Network.

Academic and scientific studies over the past 30 years – by such groups as the World Health Organization, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Academies of Science – have said, unequivocally, that GM foods are safe and healthy.  Studies have concluded that GMOs are as safe as, or safer than, conventional or organic foods.

GMOs now make up a major part of the American diet: 60-70 percent of all food on supermarket shelves is GMO. So the issue of labeling needs to be addressed in a manner that defers to sound science. An alternative to the state-based food police is a national standard. If the Anti-GMO activists were truly interested in science and consumer safety, they would aggressively support this approach.

CapAllies commends Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) on their efforts to draft compromise legislation that will offer a common sense, national food labeling solution.

# # #

Media Contact: Jerry Rogers 202.302.9783 / jerry@capallies.com

Jerry Rogers is the founder of Capitol Allies, an independent, nonpartisan effort that promotes free enterprise, and he’s the co-host of  The LangerCast on the RELM Network.

Media Alert: Soda Tax

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Philly Passes Regressive Grocery Tax

Washington, DC – Philadelphia became the first major American city with a soda tax despite massive opposition to the regressive proposal. The City Council gave final approval to a 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax on sugary and diet beverages. Mayor Jim Kenney said the new tax “will help improve education.” However, in the eleventh-hour the Mayor’s office announced that less than half of the projected revenue will be earmarked for education. Instead, millions of taxpayer dollars will be used for special projects and to plug holes in the City’s General Fund. Mayor Kenney sold the tax as a means to fund pre-K. Instead, his false promise proves that the public cannot trust government to do what it says when it comes to targeted taxes.

Capitol Allies remains steadfast in its opposition to such regressive, discriminatory taxation.

Mayor Kenney and the City Council ignored 58 percent of Philadelphians who opposed the regressive, discriminatory tax. A tax that will hit over a thousand grocery items. Capitol Allies has offered commentary stating that the tax is clearly illegal, violating Article VIII, Section 1, of the Pennsylvania Constitution—or uniformity clause.

Capitol Allies and its partners will continue to offer analysis and commentary on the Philly tax so to better inform the public discussion as the anti-tax fight moves to the courts.

Media Contact: Jerry Rogers 202.302.9783 / jerry@capallies.com

Jerry Rogers is the founder of Capitol Allies, an independent, nonpartisan effort that promotes free enterprise, and he’s the co-host of  The LangerCast on the RELM Network.

Philly Soda Tax Unconstitutional

 

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The Philadelphia City Council is set to give final approval to a 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax increase for sugar-added and artificially sweetened soft drinks. A massive, regressive tax that will hurt Philly’s poorest residents.

Mayor Jim Kenney (D-Philadelphia) sold the tax by promising that the revenue will be used exclusively for “do-good” government programs, specifically a pre-kindergarten expansion. However, in an eleventh-hour bombshell the Mayor’s office informed the Council that less than half of the revenue will be earmarked for pre-K. Millions of dollars will be used to plug structural problems in the city’s budget.

Ronald D. Castille, a former chief justice of Pennsylvania, writes in Philly.Com that the Philadelphia Mayor and Council are pushing an unconstitutional soda tax:

“Mayor Kenney and City Council are in the process of violating the Pennsylvania Constitution” because “the proposed tax by the ounce is a thinly disguised sales tax.” The Mayor is trying “to claim that the tax is imposed on the distributor, not the consumer. The city implausibly believes the tax will not be passed on to the consumer.”  However, businesses ALWAYS pass the cost of all taxation onto their customers in the prices of the goods and services they sell.

This brings up Article VIII, Section 1, of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The uniformity clause states:

All taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax, and shall be collected under general laws.”

“The city says the distributor will bear the burden of this tax. But a distributor in Reading or Altoona, for instance, would not have a similar tax on the distribution of these beverages. Consumers in other counties do not have to pay a similar tax on these beverages.” The former chief justice is right – the Philly soda tax is a clear violation of the uniformity clause.

 

Is Philadelphia’s Soda Tax Legal?  

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The Philadelphia City Council approved a 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax increase for sugar-added and artificially sweetened soft drinks. A massive, regressive tax that will hurt Philly’s poorest residents.

Mayor Jim Kenney (D-Philadelphia) sold the tax by promising that the revenue will be used exclusively for “do-good” government programs, including a pre-kindergarten expansion. However, in an eleventh-hour bombshell the Mayor’s office informed the Council that the revenue from the new tax will be used to plug structural problems in the city’s budget.

Mayor Kenney pushed through a massive, regressive beverage tax on a false promise.

In the same legislative session, the City Council also advanced a plan that offers tax credits to merchants who sell “healthy” beverages in their stores. So the Council is hiking the taxes on sugar-added and artificially sweetened beverages yet offering tax credits for “healthy” beverages.

In Philadelphia, not all beverages are equal under the law. However, Article VIII, Section 1, of the Pennsylvania Constitution states:

All taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax, and shall be collected under general laws.”

The dictionary defines “uniformity” as “the quality or state of being the same.” Under these new proposals, will beverages be taxed uniformly in Philadelphia?

In the “same class of subjects,” Philly will reward tax credits to some beverages but punish other beverages with tax hikes. Is the City Council in violation of the Tax Uniformity Clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution?

A final vote on the “soda” tax is expected to take place on June 16. Let’s hope Council Members take a look at the Pennsylvania Constitution and a Webster’s dictionary before the final vote.