Anti-GMO labeling groups are at it again. The “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act”, officially H.R. 4432, and more accurately dubbed the “Deny Americans the Right-to-Know” Act (the DARK Act), came before the 113th Congress last year, and is likely to appear before the 114th Congress this year in a new bill. To stop this from happening, this week has been designated “National Week of Action to Label GMOs” to prevent another DARK Act from coming to Congress and possibly passing. Here the top 5 things that the powerful food lobbies behind last year’s DARK Act don’t want you to know:
- The DARK Act was introduced by a powerful food lobby.
2014’s DARK Act was introduced by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). The GMA is a powerful food lobby. In 2013, they were sued for not disclosing the donors behind their anti-GMO labeling campaign to defeat this ballot initiative in Washington State. Later, GMA revealed those large donations came from Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Nestle. Since then, the GMA have done everything in their power to prevent states from filing GMO labeling laws. Right now, they are spending large amounts of money filing lawsuits against the state of Vermont for passing a mandatory GMO labeling law that will take effect in 2016.
- That bill’s sponsor has ties to the GMA.
The congressman sponsoring this bill, Mike Pompeo (R-KS), was the single largest recipient of campaign funds from Koch Industries in the 2010 election, according to the Center for Food Safety. Georgia-Pacific, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, is a member of the GMA so it’s no surprise that he’s sponsored this bill.
- Pompeo has tweeted misleading information about the act.
Just before the December 10th, 2014 hearing on the DARK Act, Pompeo tweeted, “State-by-state GMO labeling would only serve to hurt families – $500 per year in increased food costs, according to one study. #HR4432” However, a report released in October, 2014 from Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports, conducted by the independent economic research firm ECONorthwest, concluded that GMO labeling would cost consumers “less than a penny a day” (PDF). I could not find where Pompeo got that $500 annual figure. Pompeo is also one of a group of incumbent Congressman claiming that state-by-state laws will cause confusion for consumers. We contend that clearly labeling food will clear any confusion a consumer might have about their whether their food contains GMOs.
- The DARK Act puts states’ rights in jeopardy.
Last year’s bill sought to eliminate a state’s right to mandatory labeling of GMOs and replace it with a nationwide voluntary labeling standard – but this already exists. Companies can opt to voluntarily disclose genetically engineered ingredients on labels at any time, many simply choose not to. The idea of a “replacement bill” is ridiculous at best – and it won’t work. “Voluntary labeling is an absolutely ineffective policy solution and is not a substitute for mandatory labeling,” according to Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety. Kimbrell and the Center support a consumers’ right to know whether their food contains GMOs.
- The FDA would be the only group in charge of mandatory labeling.
The DARK Act would not have been completely ineffective. According to “Frequently Asked Questions: H.R. 4432,” published by Pompeo’s office, this act will “create a mandatory process for the submission of all GMO crops to the FDA before introducing them into the food supply” (PDF file). However, as we’ve discussed before, Michael Taylor, one of the executives at the FDA, was a former Monsanto executive, which begs the question of whether the FDA’s findings are objective. In fact, former Monsanto employees in the Obama administration include Lidia Watrud, who has worked for both the EPA and USDA, former USDA Director Roger Beachy and Chief Agricultural Trade Negotiator Islam Siddiqui. Early on, the Obama administration claimed to support GE labeling, but has remained silent when the issue has come before Congress.
It’s critical that we make our voices heard with regard to prevent another bill like the DARK Act from coming to the floor of Congress in 2015. Next year, Hillary Clinton, a former lawyer from Monsanto’s law firm, will likely run for president. If the such a bill is passed, existing GMO labeling laws in states like Vermont will be overturned. If not, the July 2016 enforcement date for Vermont’s new law predates the presidential election, and hopefully will remain safe no matter the outcome. For now, legislation like the DARK Act must go – or mandatory GMO labeling will become a thing of the past.
TAKE ACTION AGAINST THE DARK ACT NOW
It’s critical that families across America work to stop a 2015 version of DARK Act now! What can you do? There are a few important steps you can take during this week of action.
- Sign the petition at Just Label It:
- On that page, find your Senator’s phone number and call him to tell him that you oppose the “Safe & Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014,” and that you support the labeling of genetically engineered foods andthe states’ right to make that choice.
- Share this article and the petition with everyone you know this week!