GMO labeling advocates welcomed a major win on Wednesday, as the most recent anti-GMO labeling bill, also known as the DARK Act--for "Deny Americans the Right to Know", stalled in the Senate. The bill failed to earn 60 votes and therefore will not advance.
The bill, which was introduced by Senator Pat Roberts, would have allowed the current voluntary labeling system to remain in place. This system has existed for 13 years and does not afford consumers true visibility with regards to their food.
“Simply put, Senator Roberts’ proposal didn’t deserve the support of the Senate,” Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Just Label It and Stonyfield Farm said in a statement, calling the proposed system "unworkable" and "confusing."
"We applaud Senators Debbie Stabenow, Jeff Merkley, Jon Tester, Barbara Boxer and Pat Leahy for their efforts to defeat the DARK Act," said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at Environmental Working Group, in response to the announcement.
The fight for the right to know isn’t over yet, however, as the GMO labeling debate continues in Washington. In his statement, Hirshberg called for a true solution to this problem, born of compromise.
"Now that the DARK Act been rejected by the Senate, I am optimistic that Congress can come together to find a real solution for consumers that is mandatory, national and gives consumers the information they want about the food they are eating," he said. "Any solution has to work for both consumers and for industry."
Tom Colicchio, Food Policy Action co-founder and chef, highlighted the fact that 90 percent of Americans have called for GMOs to be labeled in order to make more informed decisions about their food, as he expressed his happiness at this most recent win for GMO labeling advocates.
"I am hopeful that the Senate will now work to craft a bipartisan mandatory on-pack GMO labeling bill that doesn’t demonize science and gives consumers the information they demand," he said, reacting to the proposed element of the bill that would have made voluntary GMO information available, not on packaging, but via toll-free call center.
If the bill had passed, it would have stopped pending state laws requiring GMO labeling, such as those that exist in Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine. Vermont’s GMO labeling law is now ready to go into effect in July 2016.
This incarnation of the DARK Act was introduced by Roberts in late February, after similar legislation passed in the House of Representatives in July 2015.
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