A bill that would make GMO labeling laws voluntary at the federal level was marked up by the House Agriculture Committee yesterday. The bill, which has been nicknamed the Deny Americans the Right to Know Act (DARK Act), would create a federal standard for a voluntary GMO labeling system.
The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 was introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan) back in March. The purpose of the markup session was to read through the bill and discuss amendments. While it’s a formal step to advance the bill to the floor for a vote, to GMO labeling advocates it’s a step in the wrong direction—especially since 92 percent of Americans now support mandatory GMO labeling laws. They fear the bill will continue to keep consumers in the dark about what’s actually in their food.
“This bad bill just keeps getting worse,” EWG senior policy analyst Mary Ellen Kustin said in a statement. “The DARK Act has always been an infringement upon the well-established rights of states to regulate food labeling, but the most recent versions of the bill takes that overreach to a new level.”
The bill is particularly problematic because it would preempt state and local labeling laws, making them unenforceable. It would also overthrow efforts to prohibit food companies from making misleading claims, such as using the term “natural” on foods that contain GMO ingredients.
“Because of the risks to human health posed by the widespread application of herbicides linked to cancer and other terrible diseases, like Parkinsons, of course local governments would want to keep farmers and farmworkers safe from exposure,” said Kustin. “If the federal government isn’t going to protect public health, responsible local officials will want to step up – but the DARK Act wants to make it impossible for them to do so. Backers of the bill keep adding more ways to keep Americans in the dark.”
GMO labeling advocates support the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) in the House. The bill would clearly label GMO foods at the federal level and make it illegal for foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients to carry the label “natural.”
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