A draft of a new anti-GMO labeling bill — nicknamed the Deny Americans Right to Know or DARK Act — was released by Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) Friday. The bill would stop pending state laws requiring GMO labeling from going into effect, such as those in Vermont, Maine, and Connecticut, and would block the government from ever implementing mandatory GMO labeling legislation nationwide.
The new DARK act will be marked up on Thursday, February 25th, in the Senate Agriculture Committee.
The legislation’s language would allow only voluntary labeling by individual companies, as opposed to the state or nationally regulated labeling used on products that are organic or contain allergens.
Some are taking strides to prevent the new DARK Act from passing, such as Chef and Food Policy Action co-founder Tom Colicchio, who is urging chefs to weigh in with a petition opposing the legislation.
“Senator Roberts’ ridiculous new version of the DARK Act would deny us the right to know what’s in our food and how it’s grown — the same right held by consumers in 64 other nations,” Colicchio said. Nations that currently afford their citizens the right to know about GMOs include the European Union, Russia, and China.
Just Label It has also created a petition allowing citizens to express their disapproval of the act.
An earlier version of this bill was passed in the House of Representatives in 2015, though it was blocked from inclusion in the must-pass federal omnibus spending bill at the end of the year.
Studies have shown that the majority of Americans want to know if foods contain GMOs, with a study carried out by the Mellman Group for Just Label It showing that nine out of 10 Americans wants to know about GMOs in order to make an informed decision about their food purchases. Some companies, including Chipotle and Campbell’s, have begun disclosing their use of GMOs, taking advantage of voluntary GMO labeling, but most companies do not.
[Updated February 26, 2016: 48 hours after Tom Colicchio released the petition, it has already been signed by over 2,000 chefs and food professionals from 37 states.]
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