READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, June 24th…

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Roberts, Stabenow, Announce GMO Labeling Compromise

Senate Agriculture Committee Members, Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow released a GMO labeling law Thursday that would preempt state laws, such as the one taking effect July first in Vermont. The bill would require mandatory labeling of most foods with genetically modified ingredients but with labeling options. The bill offers companies a choice of providing an on-package label or a symbol or scannable electronic label, according to the Hagstrom Report. The law would preempt state labeling laws but gives the U.S. Department of Agriculture two years to develop the labeling standards. Stabenow said the bill ensures that organic producers can clearly display a “non-GMO” label, but is “also a win for our nation’s farmers and food producers.” Roberts says the legislation recognizes the 30-plus years of proven safety of biotechnology and urged Senators to support the bill. He called the legislation “a far better alternative than Vermont’s law.” Grocery Manufacturers Association CEO Pamela Bailey said the compromise is “the commonsense solution for consumers, farmers and businesses,” and urged the Senate to quickly pass the bill.

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Despite Compromise, Vermont Labeling Law Becomes De Facto Standard, For Now

The Vermont GMO labeling law is poised to be the de facto national standard, at least, for now. The Senate Agriculture Committee unveiled its GMO labeling bill Thursday, but with the House in recess, the Vermont law will stand, for at least a few days. That is if the Senate can garner the votes needed to pass the compromise and the bill can be passed by the House once the chamber returns on July 5th. The House squashed all hope of defeating the Vermont law before it comes into effect on July first after Democrats caused chaos in the chamber with a ‘sit in’ demanding action on gun control measures. Republican leaders of the House responded by adjourning for recess, skipping the final two working days on the calendar for the House this month. The Vermont law does have a six-month grace period on penalties until January. However, many major food companies pledged to comply nationally with the Vermont mandatory GMO labeling law and have already begun shipping properly labeled products.

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House Lawmakers Question EPA on Glyphosate Report

At a U.S. House committee hearing this week, the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator told lawmakers the recently published report on glyphosate is no indication of what the EPA’s final decision will be. In early May, the EPA published, and then pulled a report from the agency’s website that concluded glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans. That report, labeled “final,” from the EPA’s independent Cancer Assessment Review Committee, was only a “step in the process,” according to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. She says the warrants a larger agency review. DTN reports the final decision by the EPA on glyphosate is expected sometime this fall. Representative Frank Lucas of Oklahoma says there is concern among the farm community the agency’s action may indicate a disagreement with the conclusion EPA had mistakenly released last month. McCarthy responded by saying “this is not an indication we don’t agree with the assessment,” adding “the problem was it was not a final agency decision.”

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Agriculture: A Deadly Occupation

New numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show agriculture as one of the most dangerous occupations in the country. A list compiled by Forbes shows the top 15 most dangerous jobs in the United States. Agriculture directly made the list in three separate categories. Classified under, Miscellaneous Agricultural Workers, farm laborers and equipment operators were ranked 12th on the list, with 18.2 fatalities per 100,000 employees in 2014.The classification Farming, Fishing and Forestry Occupations made the list at number nine, with 24.1 deaths per 100,00 employees. Finally, ranked seventh on the list, the general category of Farmers, Ranchers and other Agricultural Managers logged 26 fatalities per 100,000 employees in 2014. Further, an argument can be made that the two most dangerous jobs in the nation are also directly related to agriculture. The second deadliest job in the United States is Fishing and Related Fishing Workers. Topping the list was logging workers, with 109.5 fatalities per 100,000 workers in 2014.

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Monsanto, Argentina, Agree to Royalties Collection Pact

Monsanto and Argentina have announced an agreement regarding the collection of royalties of genetically modified soybeans in Argentina. The agreement ends years of dispute between the world’s largest seed company and the third-largest grower of soybeans, according to Bloomberg News. Under the agreement, Argentina will have full control of seed commercialization to ensure private companies like Monsanto will be able to collect royalties’ payments. The agreement represents a cultural shift for Argentine farmers, who have generally avoided paying royalties to seed companies by using GMO seeds saved from previous harvests or purchased from non-registered suppliers. The agreement should help secure revenue for Monsanto from its third-largest market, after the U.S. and Brazil.

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DuPont, Bayer Launch Agriculture Startup Venture

DuPont, Bayer AG, the venture capital firm Finistere Ventures, along with two others have launched a $15-million accelerator fund known as Radicle that will back startup agriculture technology companies. Pro Farmer’s First Thing Today reports that many companies have jumped into the billion dollar agriculture-tech startup industry, hoping to profit from increasingly sophisticated tools regarding seed traits, weather sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles, among other technologies. For Bayer and DuPont, the venture may bring access to new research to address or complement gaps in their product lines.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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