WASHINGTON, September 5, 2012- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday night to advocate for a second term for President Barack Obama. The former governor of Iowa told the crowd that “in America's heartland, we're voting for President Obama.”

“President Obama has a detailed plan for a new rural economy,” he said, listing more support for small businesses, the production of bio-fuels and trade as part of the Administration’s agenda. 

While never naming Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, he acknowledged last week’s Republican National Convention and accused the party of hurting middle-class families “after two tax cuts for people who didn't need them; after deregulation of the banking and housing sectors; after the historic recession that followed.”

“Rural Americans want leaders who help middle-class communities to plan and prosper over the long-term—not opportunists who reap the rewards for themselves, leaving nothing for the people who do the sowing,” said Vilsack at the close of his four-minute speech.  

He mentioned the Obama Administration’s loans to farmers and small business owners in his pitch as well as efforts to relieve those impacted by the drought. He also focused on Obama’s energy policy. 

‘Today, President Obama is making smart investments in clean energy—wind, solar, biofuels as part of an all-of-the-above energy strategy that supports thousands of jobs, not in the Middle East, but in the Midwest,” he said. 

During Vilsack’s speech, C-SPAN aired shots of the crowd and filmed a woman displaying “Label GMOs” signs. In California, Proposition 37 will be on the ballot in November. The law would require food companies to label food products made from genetically modified organisms. 

The DNC protestor and Proposition 37 supporters want Obama to act on a statement he made in 2007: “We’ll let folks know whether their food has been genetically modified, because Americans should know what they’re buying.”

Food Democracy Now is circulating a video in support of GMO labeling that uses the President's statement.

However, the president’s 2008 campaign platform included a plan for science and innovation investments, which incorporated language to “maintain and enhance American agricultural productivity."
Although the platform did not specifically mention biotechnology or GMO food labeling, it did say “we must take steps to support our food security by investing in research that will improve yields and enhance productivity.”
“Obama will also support expanding research to help address the challenges faced by farmers in developing countries, such as developing drought-resistant crops and affordable seed and fertilizer technology,” according to the 2008 platform.

A petition in "support of mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods (GMOs)" on the White House website gained approximately 33,600 signatures since April. The petition asks the President to speak out in favor of mandatory labeling.



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