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Trump Has Made It a Lot Easier for GMOs to Enter the Food Supply

President Trump issued an executive order aimed at “streamlining” GMO regulations in the US.

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Trump GMOs Food Supply

(TMU) — On June 11, President Donald Trump quietly issued an executive order to “streamline” GMO regulations in the United States. The order, titled Modernizing the Regulatory Framework for Agricultural Biotechnology Products, is the latest move by the Trump administration aimed at promoting the use of genetically engineered or modified crops.

In his executive order, Trump called on federal agencies to fix what he called a “regulatory maze” related to the farming and selling of GMO products.

The executive order states:

“Biotechnology can help the Nation meet its food production needs, raise the productivity of the American farmer, improve crop and animal characteristics, increase the nutritional value of crop and animal products, and enhance food safety. In order to realize these potential benefits, however, the United States must employ a science-based regulatory system that evaluates products based on human health and safety and potential benefits and risks to the environment. Such a system must both foster public confidence in biotechnology and avoid undue regulatory burdens.

The order goes on to instruct the Secretary of Agriculture and other officials to “develop an action plan to facilitate engagement with consumers in order to build public confidence in, and acceptance of, the use of safe biotechnology in agriculture and the food system” [emphasis added].

The executive order also lays out plans for the Trump administration to work with other nations in developing GMO policies. Section 8 of the order gives the Ag Secretary and Secretary of State 180 days to develop an international communications and outreach strategy to facilitate engagement abroad with policymakers, consumers, industry, and other stakeholders.

Additionally, the order calls on the Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration to design a website that contains and provides links to relevant United States Government regulatory information.

Greg Jaffe, biotechnology director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told the Associated Press that the impact of the order depends on how the federal government responds. “There needs to be an assurance of safety for those products,” Jaffe said.

The topic of genetically engineered food has been controversial for years. Scientists, health advocates, and concerned citizens have been raising questions about the technology over the last decade, including activists forming global marches against biotechnology giant Monsanto between 2013 and 2016.

More recently, criticism of GMOs has centered around labeling laws. To understand the current battle for labeling genetically engineered foods, one must look back to 2015. At that time, the controversial Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act passed the House in June before ultimately failing amid heavy opposition.

To critics, the bill was known as the “DARK” (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act because the law was also aimed at nullifying GMO labeling measures, such as a state labeling bill passed in Vermont. Mike Pompeo, author of the bill, criticized mandatory labeling laws as unnecessarily costly and insisted a federal standard was the answer.

In late February 2016, U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts introduced another bill which attempted to create a federal voluntary standard for labeling GE food. Roberts’ Senate Bill 2609, or the Biotech Labeling Solutions Act, would have blocked mandatory labeling efforts by states.

In March 2016, the bill failed to reach the 60 votes needed during a procedural vote, with 49 votes in favor and 48 votes against. However, by July 2016 the labeling measure was added to the National Sea Grant College Program Act as the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. It was that measure which was ultimately signed into law by Obama, placing the U.S. Department of Agriculture in charge of labeling America’s genetically engineered food supply.

Under the Trump administration, the battle for labeling has died down largely due to a lack of reporting in the mainstream press and misinformation which falsely tells Americans that labeling rights have been won.

However, in July 2018, an analysis of proposed rule changes revealed that thousands of genetically engineered foods may be exempt from upcoming labeling requirements. In early May 2018, the Department of Agriculture released a draft rule describing how the labeling law is supposed to be implemented.

Between May and July 3, the USDA received 14,008 public comments. The comments indicate that some of the public is concerned about the language used in the rule. “The term bioengineered should not be used. It is both misleading and confusing to consumers. GMO, GE or Genetic Engineering should be used instead,” one commenter writes. “Please make all food items labeled correctly as GMO so consumers know exactly what they are purchasing,” another said.

The Environmental Working Group reports that if companies want to label foods which are made with genetically engineered ingredients, they must use the terms “bioengineered” or “bioengineered food ingredient,” instead of the widely known phrases “genetically modified” or “genetically engineered.”

Interestingly, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) recently conducted a survey to see how people respond to these different labels, including new symbols being tested by the USDA. The IFIC found that in every combination of label, the level of concern among consumers increased. In the survey consumers were shown bottles of canola oil without any label, with one of three symbols (plant, sun, or smile), with a symbol plus “bioengineered” on the label, and a symbol with “may be bioengineered” on the label.

As the USDA works to establish a uniform national standard for labeling foods that may be genetically engineered, critics continue to call out the dangers of putting the federal government in charge of the situation. Donald Trump’s recent executive order will only exacerbate the already confusing situation.

Americans who have concerns about the safety of GMOs will have to wrestle with the fact that these products may not be labeled and—with the latest executive order from Trump—will enter the food supply at an increasing pace in the coming years.

By Derrick Broze | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Pope Francis Becomes First Pope To Endorse Same-Sex Civil Unions

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Pope Francis has become the first Catholic pope to openly endorse same-sex civil unions. The comments were made in “Francesco,” a new documentary about his life that recently premiered at the Rome Film Festival.

The film features a series of new interviews where the pope discussed some of the issues that were most important to him, including the environment, poverty, racial and income inequality, and discrimination.

“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered,” Francis says in the new interview.

This is not the first time that Francis has spoken on this issue, but it is the first time that he has publicly discussed it as a sitting pope. When he was serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, he endorsed civil unions for gay couples as an alternative to same-sex marriages. Francis is now the first pope to advocate same-sex civil unions.

The Rev. James Martin, who advocates for LGBT Catholics, praised the comments as “a major step forward in the church’s support for LGBT people.”

“The pope’s speaking positively about civil unions also sends a strong message to places where the church has opposed such laws,” Martin said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.

Of course, there are also plenty of more conservative leaders in the Catholic Church who were critical of the pope’s comments.

Ed Mechmann, director of public policy at the Archdiocese of New York, said in a blog post that the pope has “made a serious mistake.”

It is also important to note the distinction between same-sex civil union and marriage. Marriage is seen as an institution of the church, although it is a tradition that has been practiced under a variety of different religions.

Fewer people these days are identifying as religious, and even fewer as catholic, but many still get married in churches out of a sense of tradition. Some of the more conservative churches still want to refuse to formally recognize a same-sex civil union as a “marriage,” and wish to separate these into two classifications.

For most people, equality under the law and legal recognition of the union is what is most important, but recognition by the church will still be important for members of the LGBT community who identify as catholic.

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, an organization of LGBT Catholics, said that the pope’s comments are “historic.”

“At the same time, we urge Pope Francis to apply the same kind of reasoning to recognize and bless these same unions of love and support within the Catholic Church, too,” he said in a statement.

Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first pope from outside Europe since the Syrian Gregory III, who reigned in the 8th century.

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Man Tried To Steal Every Newspaper In Town To Hide Story About Him Stealing Election Signs

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It was like something out of a movie or a cartoon. An Iowa man attempted to steal every newspaper in his small town, just so his neighbors couldn’t see that he was listed in the police blotter for stealing election signs. Unfortunately for him, his outrageous plot to cover up his local act of election interference backfired, because the case ended up making national headlines.  

Peter De Yager got a small mention in the September 2nd edition of the Dickinson County News and he wasn’t happy about it. De Yager had recently pleaded guilty to stealing a Joe Biden election sign from a neighbors yard, so his name was listed in the crime roundup section of the paper. Just three sentences were dedicated to De Yager on the third page of the paper, but he seemed determined to keep news of his arrest private. 

After the issue featuring De Yager was released, the staff at Dickinson County News began getting reports that entire stacks of papers had gone missing from numerous locations around town.

Dickinson County News staff writer Seth Boyes told As It Happens guest host Peter Armstrong that a delivery driver was the first to notice that something was wrong.

“He told us that there were no papers anywhere along his route that day. And he also happened to mention that there was one location, at least, that told him they had some footage of a guy stealing all the papers on their on their security cameras. So from that point, I started making some calls,” Boyes said.

De Yager is a well-known businessman in the area, and a regular customer at many of the stores that he stole from, so he was identified immediately. In fact, one of the store owners recognized De Yager and didn’t even call the police, but just confronted him the next time that he came into the store. 

Boyes said the staff at the newspaper also figured things out pretty quickly.

“I got to thinking about why anyone would want to take all the papers. And it did occur to me that we’d run that police blotter, what we call the Sirens, in that week’s edition. It was kind of a long shot, we thought, but, you know, maybe it was,” he said.

As Boyes pointed out, most news is distributed on the internet these days, and print editions are more commonly sent to the homes of subscribers.

“The paper is not only available online, but subscribers get the paper directly mailed to the residents. So stealing papers out of the racks is going to have an effect, but not as large an effect as one would think,” Boyes said.

Only one of the stores, a Jiffy station, decided to press charges, while the other locally-owned stores simply accepted an apology and a repayment. 

“We went around to the various convenience stores, and some of them opted not to press charges if he agreed to come in and pay for the papers,” Spirit Lake Police Lt. Daren Diers said.

De Yager pleaded guilty to theft and trespassing for taking about $20 worth of newspapers from the Jiffy gas station, and has paid the other convenience stores back for the papers that were taken.

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Rudy Giuliani Caught With Hands In Pants In Hotel Room Scene With “Borat’s Daughter” In New Film

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Rudy Giuliani is among the high profile figures who were pranked for Sasha Baron Cohen’s new Borat sequel, and so far his encounter is the most embarrassing. Cohen and Maria Bakalova, the actress who portrays Borat’s daughter in the film, brought Giuliani into their prank by posing as conservative TV journalists.

They conducted an interview with Giuliani where they were extremely agreeable and after the interview, Bakalova went back to a nearby hotel room with him for a drink. The room was rigged with hidden cameras, which recorded Giuliani untucking his shirt and reaching into his pants.

Once he began to reach into his pants, Borat runs into the room and shouts, “She’s 15. She’s too old for you.”

Just after the incident, Giuliani called New York City police to report the incident, claiming that he was the victim of a scam or a set up.

Giuliani described the encounter to the New York Post, saying that, “This guy comes running in, wearing a crazy, what I would say was a pink transgender outfit. It was a pink bikini, with lace, underneath a translucent mesh top, it looked absurd. He had the beard, bare legs, and wasn’t what I would call distractingly attractive. This person comes in yelling and screaming, and I thought this must be a scam or a shakedown, so I reported it to the police. He then ran away.”

Giuliani said that he later realized that it was Sacha Baron Cohen and was relieved that he didn’t fall for their prank, although he seems to be the only one that thinks that.

“I thought about all the people he previously fooled and I felt good about myself because he didn’t get me,” he said.

Of course, the encounter made Giuliani look very creepy, but no laws were technically broken because Bakalova is 24-years-old and initiated the encounter. They were also interrupted before Giuliani got the chance to do anything illegal.

The plot of the new film revolves around Borat’s quest to give his daughter to a powerful US politician as a gift. As with the last film, Borat encounters a variety of different Americans in his travels, and their interactions are intended to illustrate a sort of culture shock that he is experiencing, while also satirizing the cultures of both America and Kazakstan.

However, due to the overwhelming success of the first film, Borat’s face was very easy to recognize for most of the people who he attempted to prank, so he needed to get creative and don disguises so his targets would feel more comfortable and let their guard down.

In one scene, he wears a very realistic Donald Trump disguise and crashes the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference, while Mike Pence is giving a speech.

In the scene, which is shown in the trailer, Cohen is seen running through the conservative convention wearing the Trump mask, and carrying an unconscious woman over his shoulder. He bursts into the room where Pence is speaking and shouts “Micheal Paenis I brought that girl or you.” Mike Pence looked directly into the crowd, glaring at Cohen.

The new film will be available to stream for Amazon Prime subscribers on Oct. 23.

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