It is a dark day in the history of food safety in the United States.
The US House of Representatives has passed H.R. 1599, ironically called the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, but labeled by GMO-labeling advocates the Dark Act (Deny Americans the Right to Know).
On July 23, 2015, Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-TX), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee stated upon passage of H.R. 1599:
Advances in technology have allowed the U.S. to enjoy the safest, highest quality, most abundant, diverse and affordable supply of food and fiber mankind has ever known. With the world’s population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, biotechnology is an essential tool for our farmers to meet this demand in an environmentally sound, sustainable, and affordable way. Unfortunately, proposed Federal and State laws threaten this innovation by generating a patchwork of differing labeling requirements, which will result in inconsistent and confusing information for consumers and interfere with interstate commerce. H.R. 1599 establishes a voluntary nation-wide marketing program that gives consumers access to consistent, reliable information while protecting advancements in food production technology and innovation. http://agriculture.house.gov/press-release/house-passes-hr-1599-safe-and-accurate-food-labeling-act
Despite an overwhelming majority of Americans in support of GMO/GE labeling of food, Congress still passed a bill that if it becomes law would make mandatory labeling initiatives by states illegal:
“(c) Prohibitions Against Mandatory Labeling Of Food Developed Using Bioengineering.—Except for claims under subsection (a)(1) or (b)(1) of section 425, no State or political subdivision of a State may directly or indirectly establish under any authority or continue in effect as to any food in interstate commerce any requirement for the labeling of a food by virtue of its having been developed using bioengineering, including any requirements for claims that a food is or contains an ingredient that was developed using bioengineering.”http://ecochildsplay.com/2015/06/07/h-r-1599-safe-and-accurate-food-labeling-act-would-end-states-rights-to-label-gmo-foods/
The passage of the DARK act is yet another example of how big business lobbying affects our law making process. It also an example of states’ rights being usurped by the federal government.
Supported by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, who’s biggest members are Monsanto, Dupont, and Dow, H.R. 1599 is not about ensuring Americans have safe food but that chemical businesses continue to profit and control agriculture in America.
The Organic Consumer’s Association explains:
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1599, commonly known as the “DARK Act” (Deny Americans the Right to Know), a bill falsely represented by its sponsors as providing “certainty” and “clarity” for controversial genetically engineered foods, In fact, the legislation’s intent is to permanently preserve the right of food manufacturers to deceive consumers.
“We can only presume that the majority of Representatives who voted in favor of this legislation were duped by the multi-million dollar public relations and lobbying campaigns, funded by Monsanto and Big Ag, that falsely frame H.R. 1599 as pro-consumer, and perpetuate the myth that GMOs (genetically modified organisms) have been thoroughly safety tested and proven safe,” said Ronnie Cummins, international director of the Organic Consumers Association. “How else to explain why Congress would vote against science, against the more than century-old right of states to legislate on matters relating to food safety and labeling, and against the 90-percent of Americans who are in favor of mandatory labeling of GMOs?…
The bill would repeal existing state GMO labeling laws, such as Vermont’s Act 120, http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2014/Acts/ACT120.pdf and would preempt any future state or federal laws requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods or foods containing GMOs. Yesterday, the Campaign for Liberty, founded by Ron Paul, issued a statement opposing H.R. 1599 because it violates the U.S. Constitution.
H.R. 1599 would also codify the Food and Drug Administration’s position that genetically modified foods and ingredients don’t require labeling because they are as safe as those produced through conventional agriculture, thus ensuring that there will never be independent pre-market safety testing of GMO foods…
H.R. 1599 would also establish a voluntary “GMO-Free” labeling program, overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and it would allow foods containing GMOs to be labeled “natural.” http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2015/07/23/consumers-health-advocates-and-farmers-mobilize-massive-movement-opposition
The American Medical Association revised its policy three years ago calling for mandatory pre-market safety testing of GMO Food. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-06-19/features/chi-gmos-should-be-safety-tested-before-they-hit-the-market-says-ama-20120619_1_bioengineered-foods-ama-drug-cosmetic-act The fact that pre-market testing is voluntary by biotech companies like Monsanto does exactly the opposite of insuring consumer safety.
It isn’t just state GMO-labeling laws at risk in the current congress, but another law aimed at removing consumer information labels was introduced yesterday, July 24, 2015. The Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) bill was enacted in 2008 for beef, pork, chicken and ground meat. This new bill would remove this requirement and allow the USDA to use discretion for voluntary labeling of domestic meat and poultry products. http://www.nationofchange.org/2015/07/24/senate-bill-repeals-mandatory-country-of-origin-labeling-for-beef-pork-and-chicken/
H.R. 1599 will now head to the Senate. The companion bill has not yet been introduced but we can call our Senators (202-224-3121) to voice our opposition to any law that would take away a state’s right to require GMO labeling.