Senate Hearing Bodes Ill for GMO Labeling
“Monsanto’s Dream Bill” – also known as the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, HR 1599, and the “DARK Act” – standing for the Deny Americans the Right to Know Act would ban states from passing legislation to label food and products containing GMOs (genetically modified organisms), undoing years of hard-won progress at the states level made by food labeling advocates like Citizens for Health and Food and Water Watch.
Now there is a renewed sense of urgency stemming from testimony at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing held yesterday. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and food manufacturers were out in force to protect their interests by confusing the debate with repeated assertions about the safety of GMOs. It didn’t help that Ag Committee Chair, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), demonstrated they have drunk the industry Kool-Aid when they wasted spectators’ time making the same claims about GMOs’ safety.
The issue is not one of safety, even though there is compelling evidence that we should be concerned about the prevalence of GMOs. As Consumers Union director of food policy initiatives, Jean Halloran has noted, “Safety is not the point. Almost all the labels required on food—such as ingredients and fat content—are informational. So is GMO labeling. The debate over GMO labeling is about consumers’ right to know what they are eating.”
A joint letter from a bi-partisan group of state lawmakers urging Congress to oppose HR 1599 also points out that a District Court in April affirmed that states have a constitutional right to pass GMO labeling laws. Whether everyone agrees they are safe – or not.
Senator Stabenow called for “a bipartisan bill that can pass the Senate by the end of this year.”
Don’t let the biotech industry and food manufacturers hide behind questionable claims about the safety of GMOs as they trample over the US Constitution and your right to know.