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Digging Deeper

 

A commercial farm in southwestern Missouri was hit with a low pathogenic avian flu and 39,000 turkeys were destroyed (flickr/USDA)
A commercial farm in southwestern Missouri was hit with a low pathogenic avian flu and 39,000 turkeys were destroyed (flickr/USDA)

An outbreak of a bird flu has hit southwestern Missouri. While less contagious than the strain of avian flu that devastated the Midwest chicken and turkey industry last spring, the infection is still potent enough to call for the destruction of birds.

On Wednesday, when the outbreak was confirmed by the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the commercial turkey farm in Jaspar County, near Joplin, was still quarantined. Some 39,000 birds were destroyed last week as a precaution.

Many consumers don’t know that the USDA organic label, like the one on this jar of peanut butter, also means that the product is GMO-free. (Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media)
Many consumers don’t know that the USDA organic label, like the one on this jar of peanut butter, also means that the product is GMO-free. (Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media)

The U.S. Senate rejected a bill Wednesday that would have outlawed states from mandating labels on foods with genetically-modified ingredients, leaving the issue in limbo as a state labeling law looms.

The measure by Sen. Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, failed to get the 60 votes needed to move ahead, leaving the path open for Vermont’s mandatory labeling law to go into effect July 1. That was quickly applauded by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

"I am pleased that Congress stood up to the demands of Monsanto and other multi-national food industry corporations and rejected this outrageous bill,” Sanders said in a statement. “Today’s vote was a victory for the American people over corporate interests.”

But Roberts called it a vote against agriculture. He urged lawmakers to help protect farmers and ranchers who supply food to a “troubled” world.

Ben & Jerry’s, a Vermont company, supports labeling food that has genetically-modified ingredients. It supported Vermont’s law that requires such labels, set to begin in July. (Courtesy Ben & Jerry's)
Ben & Jerry’s, a Vermont company, supports labeling food that has genetically-modified ingredients. It supported Vermont’s law that requires such labels, set to begin in July. (Courtesy Ben & Jerry's)

Calling a Vermont law that creates mandatory labeling of food that has genetically engineered ingredients a “wrecking ball,” Republican Sen. Pat Roberts won first-round approval Tuesday of his bill that would circumvent the state law.

Roberts, R-Kansas, is working on a national standard that would allow food companies to voluntarily label products as GE – which the measure’s critics say already exists – and that would not allow states to require mandatory labeling of food products containing GE ingredients. The bill now moves to the full Senate, but Roberts acknowledged that many Democrats are reluctant to support the bill.

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