WASHINGTON – Advocates for mandatory GMO labeling today denounced the House Agriculture Committee’s vote to approve legislation that has come to be known as the Deny Americans the Right to Know (or DARK) Act, calling it an egregious example of government overreach.
The bill, H.R. 1599, would overturn existing state GMO labeling laws, including one in Vermont set to take effect next year, and block stop state and local governments from regulating any process related to production of GMO crops. The bill would also write into law the current flawed voluntary labeling system, keep the Food and Drug Administration from ever using its authority to mandate GMO labeling nationally and compound consumer confusion by continuing to allow foods with genetically modified ingredients to be labeled or promoted as “natural.”
“With this vote, the proponents of this bill are clearly saying they are against states’ rights, against small farmers looking to protect their livelihoods and against consumers who want to exercise their freedom to choose what they eat. This is unacceptable,” said Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs at Center for Food Safety. “We applaud Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) for standing up for the consumer’s right to know and vocally opposing this bill. At a time when Americans – farmers and consumers alike – are seeking greater diversity and individual control over their food choices, this bill smashes those rights.”
Consumers in 64 countries already have the right to know whether their food contains genetically modified ingredients, and poll after poll shows Americans want the same.
“This bill is counter to clear market trends and common sense notions of transparency and consumer choice and is an obvious case of government overreach,” said Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Stonyfield Farm and chairman of Just Label It. “The backers of this bill are siding with protecting big chemical and food companies in their efforts to hide basic facts and against average citizens who simply want to know more about their food and how it’s produced.”
Just Label It, EWG and Center for Food Safety joined Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) on a press call shortly after the committee vote.
“We will use every tool at our disposal to educate the 90 percent of Americans who support mandatory GMO labeling about how bad this bill is,” said Scott Faber, executive director of Just Label It and senior vice president of EWG. “It’s time for members of Congress to listen to the voices of consumers who want more transparency in our food system, rather bowing to big chemical companies like Monsanto.”