Bernie Sanders stages brief protest over GMO labeling in Senate

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. © Mark Kauzlarich
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders vowed to defeat a bipartisan compromise version of a bill to standardize GMO labeling, as the debate over regulating genetically modified foods reached its apex on the Senate floor.

On Wednesday night, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders attempted to derail a Senate vote on the genetically modified organism (GMO) labelling bill. His own state’s mandatory GMO labeling law is due to go into effect Friday.

Vermont’s laws are significantly more restrictive than the ones for which the Senate has begun laying the groundwork. While The Green Mountain State looks to mandate the labelling of all GMO foods, the Senate’s approach would have food companies place a telephone number on its labels for consumers to receive more information about the product, or to have a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone to find out if it contains GMOs.

The Senate bill would also nullify any existing state legislation, such as Vermont’s. However, Senator Bernie Sanders decided to derail the measure, claiming that it was a veiled attempt to defund Planned Parenthood and that the Senate legislation was a “shell” bill.

Is it possible that as part of the legislation that [McConnell] has introduced, that there is a title in there called the ... Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015?asked Sanders, “Is that title in the legislation we’re voting on?

Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other lawmakers promised that there was nothing about Planned Parenthood left in the bill, despite resistance from Sanders, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California).

The issue was seemingly resolved after Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) clarified that there were no measures to defund Planned Parenthood in the bill.