House votes to keep Americans in dark on food, passes industrys DARK Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Friends of the Earth voiced deep disappointment at yesterday’s passage of H.R. 1599, a bill which preempts state and local authority to label and regulate genetically engineered food. Dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, the bill was backed primarily by Republicans and passed by a vote of 275-150.
Friends of the Earth Food and Technology Program Director Lisa Archer offers the following statement in response:
This industry-backed bill codifies a failed voluntary labeling system, which prevents the Food and Drug Administration from implementing mandatory genetically engineered food labeling, and allows food companies to continue misleading consumers by making ‘natural’ claims about foods containing GMOs. Representatives who voted for this industry dream bill have ignored the will of 93 percent of Americans who want GMO labeling, and have blatantly attacked the ability of states to ensure our fundamental right to know what we are feeding our families. We now call on the Senate to stand up to Big Food and chemical corporations and stand with the vast majority of Americans who want mandatory GMO labeling by defeating this undemocratic attempt to keep Americans in the dark.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association and companies including Pepsi, biotech giant Monsanto and Koch Industries backed the bill. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), who introduced the bill, has been one of the single largest recipients of campaign funds from Koch Industries.
New health concerns about GMOs are raising the stakes for GMO labeling. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer recently listed the herbicide glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen and 2,4 D as a possible human carcinogen. Glyphosate, a key ingredient in Roundup, is the most widely used herbicide in the world, and since the 1996 introduction of Monsanto’s herbicide tolerant “RoundUp Ready” corn and soy more than 500 million additional pounds of glyphosate and other herbicides have been used in the U.S.
“The evidence is piling up that Monsanto’s glyphosate and other pesticides that go hand in hand with genetically engineered crops may be harming our health. Americans have more reason than ever to want to know whether they are eating GMOs,” Archer said.
More than 300 farmer, consumer and environmental groups and the nation’s second largest farming group, the National Farmers Union opposed the Dark Act. But after massive pressure by the chemical and junk food industry lobby, some Democrats representing agricultural districts joined House Republicans in passing this bill, citing concerns about state’s rights. 12 Republicans voted against the bill.
“With limited Democratic support in the House, this anti-consumer, anti-environmental, anti-transparency bill is not likely to garner massive support by Senate Democrats if introduced in the Senate,” said Archer.
H.R. 1599 would preempt more than 130 existing local and state statutes, regulations and ordinances in 43 states and block any future similar oversight of GMOs. GMO labeling is required by more than 64 countries around the world and higher food costs have not been reported in these countries as a result of labeling. In 2013 and 2014 more than 30 states introduced legislation to require GMO labeling, and Vermont, Connecticut and Maine recently passed GMO labeling laws.
Friends of the Earth supports the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), that would direct the FDA to require labeling of GMOs.