GMO Labeling and the DARK Act

It’s no secret the agrochemical lobby wields a lot of power in Washington, and what they are doing with that power is rather scary. Recently there has been a lot of buzz surrounding GMO labeling.  Several states have passed laws that require GMO labels for food-containing GMOs.  Now, there are no federal laws requiring the same thing; however, there is HR 1599, The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act or more commonly referred to as Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK ACT).

Essentially this GOP backed bill over throws the state’s laws in favor of keeping the American public in the dark about the source and ingredients of their food supply.  The bill throws out the current State laws and allows food companies to consider a GMO, genetically modified ingredient, to be “natural”.  It also removes from the States control over production of GMO free crops. Language in the bill preempts any attempt by the local governments to reduce the number of GMO crops planted in favor of non-GMO crops and leaving crop production up to the big agro lobbies to do whatever they wish, despite what the local citizens deem good their communities.

If that’s not bad enough, the USDA is given jurisdiction over the non-GMO certification process, which pales in comparison to the current independent certification process.  So, rather than tell you what foods have GMO’s the USDA will use a lax process to certify what is non-GMO.  There is nothing that prevents companies from pro-actively labelling their products GMO, but since the FDA issued guidelines back in 2001, putting in place a voluntary program none of the big food corporations have opted to label their foods.

This bill is not about the validity or safety of GMO’s but rather the right for the American people to know what’s in their food.  A majority of Americans want to know their foods contain GMOs and are in favor of GMO labeling, so it’s puzzling why the House Agriculture Committee would pass the bill, unless you consider the dollars behind the bill. Thankfully, the next stop is the Senate, where HR1599 will likely fall short of the required number of Democratic votes to pass before being sent to the President to sign it.

Interestingly, there are several other Bills floating around the halls of Washington that would make GMO labeling mandatory.  These bills will be coming up for votes this winter and it will be worth keeping an eye on them.