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Thread: Reply from Sen. Angus King (I, ME)

  1. #1
    Administrator Islander's Avatar
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    Default Reply from Sen. Angus King (I, ME)

    This is a typical reply from our Independent Senator, Angus King. From his Republican counterpart, Susan Colllins: A brief "Thank you for contacting me. I am always interested in hearing from my constituents." No follow-up.

    Dear [redacted],


    I know that Maine people feel very strongly about labeling products that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and I appreciate knowing of your concerns about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) final rule establishing national disclosure requirements for foods that contain these ingredients.

    As you are likely aware, in 2016, Congress passed legislation mandating on-package labeling of products containing GMOs and charged the USDA with developing related standards. While I was—and still continue to be—supportive of mandatory on-package labeling, I opposed the legislation because it left open the option for companies to use QR codes and website addresses to disclose whether a product contains GMOs. I firmly believe these codes would not have given consumers clear and concise information as to whether a product contained GMOs and would have disadvantaged people in rural states, such as Maine, and I am disappointed the final standard allows this option for disclosure.

    I am aware that one of the biggest concerns about the final labeling rule is that it narrows the definition of what constitutes a bioengineered (BE) food, USDA’s new terminology for GMOs, making it difficult for the rule to reflect the use of new and emerging gene editing technologies such as CRISPR. The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard defines BE food as food containing genetic material that has been modified through in vitro recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid techniques or modifications that could not have otherwise been obtained through conventional breeding or nature. The standard also establishes a process for list maintenance and revision, which will allow USDA to consider new and emerging technologies and whether foods resulting from those technologies meet the definition of BE. I believe that this process provides sufficient guidance to ensure that the labeling rule remains viable and effective in the future.

    The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard is currently set to go into effect on January 1, 2020, with a mandatory compliance date of January 1, 2022. While I understand that there are still lingering concerns about the final labeling rule, I am unaware of any efforts in Congress that would direct USDA to redraft the rule, nor do I believe that the entire rule should be redrafted. Instead, I intend to closely watch how companies comply with the labeling rule and see it if it meaningfully conveys information to consumers. If consumers are not being given clear and concise information on GMO ingredients, meaning the rule does not meet the spirit of the law, then I believe Congress should direct USDA to redraft the rule. For your interest, a full overview of the labeling rule is available via the following link: https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/be.

    Thank you for sharing with me your thoughts on GMO labeling; please continue to reach out to me as the USDA initiates action under the new law.

    Best Regards,

    ANGUS S. KING, JR.
    United States Senator
    ➤ Happiness is the frosting on the cake of contentment.

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    Veteran Member Mr. Wizard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reply from Sen. Angus King (I, ME)

    The typical "kiss off" ltr. Most members of Congress never see constituent mail. A lower level staff person, usually an intern, is responsible for opening and responding to constituent mail, using the boilerplate language in the ltr. above. Phone calls to the member's office actually get more attention than correspondence because with the advent of email most people write rather than call. So, when someone takes the time to call it is viewed as more important. Have you ever tried calling?

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    Veteran Member grulla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reply from Sen. Angus King (I, ME)

    Quote Originally Posted by Islander View Post
    ..."While I was—and still continue to be—supportive of mandatory on-package labeling, I opposed the legislation because it left open the option for companies to use QR codes and website addresses to disclose whether a product contains GMOs. I firmly believe these codes would not have given consumers clear and concise information as to whether a product contained GMOs and would have disadvantaged people in rural states, such as Maine, and I am disappointed the final standard allows this option for disclosure....Best Regards, ANGUS S. KING, JR.
    United States Senator
    What BS, at least that legislation was a step in the right direction.

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    Default Re: Reply from Sen. Angus King (I, ME)

    I confess to being surprised at both of your responses. I published King's letter because it's typical of his replies, and highly unusual from any member of Congress. The usual reply from Washington is a shit sandwich: bread (thank you for contacting me), meat (reiterates, in summary form, the issue you wrote about, as if you never heard of it), bread (I'll keep your concerns in mind going forward). King never delegates; his replies are his own. He takes the time to demonstrate that he is unusually well informed on the issue I'm concerned about and essentially agrees with the points I raised in my letter to him. He actually specifies how he will treat the problem as it progresses toward implementation. You will never get so detailed a response from another Congressional rep, I assure you (his counterpart sends a real kiss-off, as I mentioned in my brief intro). I get similar letters every time I contact King, confirming either that he is well informed, or has taken the time to inform himself before writing.
    And yes, I've phoned my reps in Washington frequently when some urgent issue is pending. I have no faith in these calls, they're totally impersonal, you just become a number in the "pro" or "con" column. In most cases, I doubt they're influential at all.
    ➤ Happiness is the frosting on the cake of contentment.

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    Veteran Member grulla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reply from Sen. Angus King (I, ME)

    Quote Originally Posted by Islander View Post
    I confess to being surprised at both of your responses....King never delegates; his replies are his own. He takes the time to demonstrate that he is unusually well informed on the issue I'm concerned about and essentially agrees with the points I raised in my letter to him. He actually specifies how he will treat the problem as it progresses toward implementation....
    King's reply (ies) are not personalized, as they are more than likely preprinted letters, and he may well have many versions for the same issue. King appears to be an independent moderate of sorts. He may be well informed, but that does not mean he is honest or credible, substance counts. Therefore, the length of a letter does not necessarily impress me.

    Politically independent moderates are like fingerprints, there are no two alike and one never knows where these fence sitters really stand ... unless perhaps, they assume a predetermined moderate position as the result of belonging to, and/or adhering to an ideological third party platform where one DOES know where a politician stands, and Angus King does not impress me in that way. https://ballotpedia.org/Angus_King
    Last edited by grulla; 09-21-19 at 09:47 AM.

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    Default Re: Reply from Sen. Angus King (I, ME)

    I'm sorry you're unimpressed, because you are wrong on all counts, and that is what makes him unique among politicians. I've had plenty of time to follow him, in private life, as governor and in the Senate, and find him to be among the most honest and ethical of politicians, closer to Jimmy Carter than to any president in my lifetime. You may not share his ideologies, but I do; he reflects my vision of how government should be conducted. You could do worse than have him as your senator. He has strong views, he shares my passion on many issues including the environment, and he's no fence-sitter!
    ➤ Happiness is the frosting on the cake of contentment.

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    Default Re: Reply from Sen. Angus King (I, ME)

    Just for comparison's sake, here is the response to the same issue (GMO labeling) from Maine's other senator. Yes, her staff punches these out. They don't even bother to personalize them with my actual name, as King did. Notice the different font from the salutation to the body. Her signature is a stamp, whereas King's is authentic. Contacting Collins about anything is a waste of keystrokes, and we're hoping to vote her out in 2020.

    Dear Friend,

    Thank you for contacting me through my website. Your views are important to me, and input from my constituents is very helpful when I consider the many important issues facing our nation.
    Again, thank you for writing.

    Sincerely,
    Susan M. Collins
    United States Senator
    ➤ Happiness is the frosting on the cake of contentment.

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    Default Re: Reply from Sen. Angus King (I, ME)

    Let's frame this another way. These letters from my Maine senators are in response to an ANH legal prompt on GMO labeling. Who else here followed through on that legal item? Just for comparison's sake, howzabout posting the replies you got from your senators?
    ➤ Happiness is the frosting on the cake of contentment.

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