by guest blogger Leah Zerbe, online editor for RodaleWellness.com
China and Russia require the labeling of genetically engineered foods, but here in America, it’s another story.
Last Thursday, 275 House members voted to keep consumers in the dark by voting for legislation that would block meaningful GMO labeling efforts in America. H.R. 1599, otherwise known as the DARK Act, essentially takes the rights of states and municipalities to pass laws making it mandatory to label foods as containing GMOs. The largely Republican-backed bill, introduced by Mike Pompeo (R–Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D–N.C.), nixes mandatory GMO labeling and instead suggests that companies voluntarily label foods containing GMO ingredients.
The bill passed by a 275 to 150 vote.
“Passage of this bill is an attempt by Monsanto and its agribusiness cronies to crush the democratic decision making of tens of millions of Americans. Corporate influence has won and the voice of the people has been ignored,” says Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety. “We remain confident that the Senate will preserve the rights of Americans and stand up for local democracy.”
The House vote would block future mandatory GMO labeling efforts and also puts the 130 existing statutes, regulations, and ordinances in 43 states at risk.
“The bill that passed includes provisions that would preempt states from labeling GMOs or enforce already passed GMO labeling provisions (like Vermont’s Act 120), and would prohibit states from having any oversight of GMO crops—for example, a county-wide ban on growing GMOs or GMO-free zones in certain organic seed-producing areas,” explains Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “Instead, this bill would create a voluntary federal GMO labeling standard for companies, weakening already deficient regulations.”
What’s the big deal about GMO ingredients? Recent studies have linked glyphosate, the pesticide sprayed on most GMO crops, to an increased risk of lymphoma and other health problems. The World Health Organization just dubbed glyphosate a “probable human carcinogen.” Norwegian tests have found “extreme” levels of glyphosate in food crops. (The weedkiller has even been detected in popular snack chips!)
Want meaningful GMO labeling legislation? The Center for Food Safety suggests asking your reps to support bipartisan legislation introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D–Calif.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D–Ore.) called the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act—it would require that food manufacturers label foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. As always, you can choose organic to know the food you’re choosing doesn’t have GMO ingredients.
How did your state’s representatives vote? You can view the full results at the House clerk’s site. Keep in mind that voting “aye” on the DARK Act is a vote against mandatory GMO labeling, while voting “no” on this legisislation is support for mandatory GMO labeling.
Leah Zerbe is online editor for RodaleWellness.com. Prior to working at Rodale, she was the senior online editor at NBCPhiladelphia.com, where she headed up the station’s online “Going Green” initiative, wrote about center-city crime and traffic jams, and blogged about her beloved Philadelphia Phillies. She and her husband run a sustainable organic farm in Schuylkill County, where they grow vegetables, strawberries, herbs, and flowers and raise heritage-breed chickens.
Adapted from the article DARK Act Passes House, Threatens GMO Labeling, which originally ran on RodaleWellness.com.