The bill is spurred by a push back from bio-tech companies (GMO companies) and Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA) to make sure that state governments cannot enforce GMO labeling laws passed in response to public demands.
The official title of the bill is deceptive, “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015” (1).
The only people this bill is safe for is the food industry. Perhaps that is the irony of the title of the bill.
Laws Protect Industry over Citizens
The bill quickly gained the nickname, the DARK Act (Deny Americans’ Right to Know). The bill places the decision-making of labeling GMO products in the hands of individual food companies with voluntary GMO labeling.
It’s certainly not the first move by GMO companies to get laws or riders passed that serve their best interests over that of American citizens. In 2013, Top Secret Writers reported about the “Continuing Resolution spending bill, HR 933” (1) that “was the vehicle used to get a “biotech rider” passed.
Dubbed the Monsanto Protection Act (Section 735). That rider “prevents any legal action against Monsanto for its GMO seeds. Even if a court decides that Monsanto is legally responsible for side-effects or other legalities, the company can’t be bound by any court in the country. In other words, the giant corporation is above the law and every citizen in this country” (2).
The DARK Act is just the latest legal tactics being used to serve industry over citizens. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) introduced the industry-sponsored bill. That industry is comprised of not just the GMA but also biotech companies, such as Monsanto that have engineered GMO crops.
When the House Agriculture Committee gave its final approval of the bill and shuttled it off to the Energy and Commerce Committee post haste, no one expected it to bypass the committee. According to Reddit, in a matter of days the bill was hijacked and sent directly in the fast lane to the House completely bypassing the Energy and Commerce Committee (3).
DARK Act Overrides State Laws
This bill is so dark that it not only denies consumers the right to know what is in their food with mandatory GMO labeling, it also wreaks havoc on state rights by making it illegal for state or local townships to ban GMO crops. The bill supersedes any laws passed by individual states, completely stripping the states’ rights for demanding GMO labeling.
The DARK Act sews up all the preventative measures available to citizens who have demanded that the deceptive practices of the food industry be stopped. Since the early 1990s, GMO crops have been introduced into the food supply chain without the knowledge of consumers.
In an effort to compete further with GMO companies, small growers who wish to alert consumers that their foodstuffs are GMO free will have the added financial burden of labeling their foods as non-GMO.
This backward form of labeling the GMO free foods as opposed to forcing GMO producers to distinguish their GMO products with accurate labeling is yet another way to burden small growers/local growers.
Will the labeling expenses be the final shove that puts small growers out of business? While some might minimize the cost to growers, it’s important to remember how the giant food companies wailed that mandatory labeling would threaten their financial stability.
Bill Tramples State Rights
The DARK Act tramples the state rights and denies consumers the right to know what is in the foods they purchase. Such legal steps to deny those rights go against everything the Constitution was written to protect – the individual’s rights and sovereignty of states’ rights.
The bill is the GMO companies’ and GMA’s push back to the mandatory GMO labeling laws passed by states and other states in the process of voting on similar labeling bills. The public has made its voice heard, but through such political tactics, these companies have found a way to circumvent the constitution and the rights of American consumers.
Whether or not GMO foods are healthy or unhealthy is not the issue when it comes to GMO labeling. It is a consumer issue of the right to know what is being purchased for consumption.
Advocates for GMO labeling ask one simple question of GMO companies, “If GMOs are so wonderful and harmless, then why don’t you want to proudly display your achievement on your products?”
References & Image Credits:
(2) TSW: Monsanto Protection Act Sneaks Through Senate During Sequestration