In a landslide, the House of Representatives voted 275 to 150 this week in favor of The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, also known as the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act that aims to thwart federal and state GMO labeling laws.
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) introduced the bill, which would prevent states from passing laws requiring labels on genetically modified foods. Several of these bills have already passed in Vermont, Connecticut and Maine. The food industry says that those bills would pass unnecessary costs onto both the manufacturers and the consumers if food producers are forced to comply.
“Precisely zero pieces of credible evidence have been presented that foods produced with biotechnology pose any risk to our health and safety,” Pompeo said. “We should not raise prices on consumers based on the wishes of a handful of activists.”
But activists say they have science in their corner, and a growing global concern over GMO safety seems to support the need for stricter regulations, or at least transparent labeling.
“It’s outrageous that some House lawmakers voted to ignore the wishes of nine out of 10 Americans,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs for Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit watchdog organization. “Today’s vote to deny Americans the right to know what’s in their food and how it’s grown was a foregone conclusion. This House was bought and paid for by corporate interests, so it’s no surprise that it passed a bill to block states and the FDA from giving consumers basic information about their food.”
If the bill passes through the Senate, it will move closer to preventing any type of labeling on genetically modified foods, despite the growing number of studies that point to human and environmental health risks connected with these crops.
GMO bans and labeling requirements are enforced in more than 60 countries around the world, with U.S. food manufacturers compliant in those areas.
According to EWG, more than 300 organizations and food companies along with food industry and social justice leaders oppose the DARK Act, and the group says consumer polls point to American consumers’ concern over the safety of GMOs.
“We’re confident the Senate will defeat the DARK Act,” added Faber. “We continue to hope that thoughtful food companies that listen to their customers will work with consumer groups to craft a non-judgmental GMO disclosure to put on the back of food packaging. Americans should have the same right as citizens of 64 other countries to know what’s in their food and how it’s grown.”
“If this bill becomes law it would forever take away our right to choose what we feed our children, farmer’s rights to grow their crop of choice, and our right to protect ourselves and our communities from dangerous chemicals,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety in a statement. “If this bill passes in the Senate, imagine the hundreds of millions of pounds of additional pesticides, including Roundup and 2,4-D—an element of “Agent Orange”—in your food, water and air.”
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