While the two parties have plenty to fight about in the new Republican Congress, Mitch McConnell, the possible next Senate majority leader, says he shares common ground with the president on international trade. What does this mean for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)? We get analysis from Lori Wallach of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, who notes that while some analysts say GOP gains will accelerate the passage of fast-track legislation in Congress to enable an agreement on the TPP, “it is kind of hard for the Republicans to voluntarily delegate more authority to the guy they’ve been attacking as the imperial president who grabs power that’s not his.” The controversial so-called free trade deal involves 12 countries and nearly 40 percent of the global economy. Trade ministers from the 12 countries negotiating the trade deal are due to meet in Beijing ahead of the Asia-Pacific economic summit next week to continue negotiations.
Ballot initiatives to require labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients, or GMOs, failed to pass Tuesday in Colorado and Oregon, after agribusiness giants Monsanto, PepsiCo and Kraft spent millions to help defeat the measures. But in a victory for food safety advocates, Hawaii’s Maui County passed one of the strongest anti-GMO measures ever, despite the opposition outspending supporters by a ratio of 87 to 1. The Maui GMOmoratorium calls for a complete suspension of the cultivation ofGMO crops until studies conclusively prove they are safe. Maui is often called "GMO Ground Zero" and the moratorium that passed Tuesday could have national implications because multinational seed producers, such as Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences, use the county to research and develop new seed varieties. Under the new measure, farmers who knowingly cultivate GMOs could be penalized with a $50,000-per-day fine. On Wednesday, Monsanto released a statement saying it plans to ask the Maui court to declare the initiative "legally flawed" and not enforceable. We are joined in Maui by Dr. Lorrin Pang, a public health official who helped draft and submit Maui’s successful GMO moratorium initiative.
Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, discusses the company’s campaign for a successful genetically modified food labeling measure in its home state of Vermont, as well as one in Oregon — where it renamed one of its ice cream flavors as "Food Fight Fudge Brownie" — that ultimately failed to pass on Tuesday. "We are really proud of the ingredients we use," Greenfield says. "It is just so hard to imagine that other food companies wouldn’t want to tell consumers what is in their food." Ben & Jerry’s plans to complete its transition to all non-GMO ingredients by the end of the year. "That transition to all non-GMO ingredients is not going to raise the cost of a pint at all to a consumer. So it can be done." We are also joined by one of the leading advocates of an initiative that passed in Hawaii to suspend the cultivation of GMO crops. "We are beyond labeling," says Dr. Lorrin Pang. "For us, it is really more of an environmental health issue."
A historic number of marijuana legalization measures were on the ballot Tuesday, and most of them passed. Voters in Oregon and Alaska joined Colorado and Washington to make pot available for adults to buy in retail shops, while voters in the District of Columbia approved an initiative that makes it legal for adults to possess two ounces of marijuana and grow up to six marijuana plants in their home. One medical marijuana amendment narrowly lost in Florida, while another in Guam won by 56 percent, making it the first U.S. territory to approve such a law. Meanwhile, California overwhelmingly voted to change six low-level, nonviolent offenses, including simple drug possession, from felonies to misdemeanors. We speak with Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, whose lobbying arm helped draft and support many of Tuesday’s successful measures.
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