DARK Act Compromise Could Preempt Vermont’s GMO Label Law

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SOURCEEcoWatch

[Editor’s note: This bill will now head to the Senate and if passed will then be voted on in the House. If passed in the House, it will be sent to President Obama’s desk. If signed by the POTUS, the bill would preempt Vermont‘s and other state laws and establish a federal program based on QR codes, a symbol, 1-800 numbers or a statement on packages referring people to websites.]

Today, it was reported that the Senate’s Agriculture Committee leadership has reached a deal on labeling GMO foods, specifically to block states from requiring clear, on-package labels of GMO foods.

This agreement fails to provide any meaningful federal labeling requirement. This is not a food-labeling bill. This is a rollback of democracy at the behest of the world’s largest agribusiness and biotech corporations.

This deal can still be described as the Denying Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act because it will ensure that most consumers won’t know how their food is produced. Vermont’s law, which is about to go into effect, and with which many companies are already complying, would give consumers clear, on-package labels.

But this deal from Senators Stabenow and Roberts doesn’t even come close, and would instead require consumers to have smartphones and a cellphone signal to know what they are buying. This deal seems to be designed to ensure that big food processing companies and the biotechnology industry continue to profit by misleading consumers.

People want to know if the food they buy contains GMO ingredients. It’s time for Congress to create a mandatory on-package labeling requirement so people can decide for themselves whether they want to eat a food that has been produced using genetic engineering.

The majority of Americans support labeling for GMOs and will hold their elected officials accountable if they vote to strip away transparency about how their food is produced. Any bill on GMO labeling that would result in anything less than mandatory on-package labeling is unacceptable.

We urge the Senate to reject this bill.

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Wenonah Hauter is the executive director of Food & Water Watch. She has worked extensively on food, water, energy and environmental issues at the national, state and local level. Her book Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America examines the corporate consolidation and control over our food system and what it means for farmers and consumers. Experienced in developing policy positions and legislative strategies, she is also a skilled and accomplished organizer, having lobbied and developed grassroots field strategy and action plans. From 1997 to 2005 she served as director of Public Citizen’s Energy and Environment Program, which focused on water, food and energy policy. From 1996 to 1997, she was environmental policy director for Citizen Action, where she worked with the organization’s 30 state-based groups. From 1989 to 1995 she was at the Union of Concerned Scientists where, as a senior organizer, she coordinated broad-based, grassroots sustainable energy campaigns in several states. She has an M.S. in Applied Anthropology from the University of Maryland.

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