GMOs: Why the secrecy?
The new Congress is now in session, and it’s only a matter of time before what’s known as the Deny Americans the Right to Know (or DARK) Act is re-introduced. If passed and signed into law, this act would overturn state laws that require the labeling of genetically engineered (GMO) foods.
Big Food and the biotech companies like Monsanto are pushing to reintroduce the DARK Act, which would:
Prevent states from adopting their own GMO labeling laws.
Block any attempt by states to make it illegal for food companies to put a “natural” label on products that contain GMO ingredients.
Prevent the FDA from requiring companies to label GMO ingredients and instead continue a failed “voluntary” labeling policy.
Voluntary Labeling is a Proven Failure
While we usually support voluntary programs over mandatory programs, when it comes to GMOs, this is the wrong approach. There has already been voluntary labeling for the last 13 years — and not one company has voluntarily labeled its products as containing GMOs.
As long as Americans don’t realize that GMOs are in their food, they’ll keep buying these companies’ products. This isn’t how the free market is supposed to work — this is essentially fraud!
DARK Act Would Destroy Grassroots Efforts
Because FDA has not listened to the public call for GMO labeling (even ignoring the opinions of its own scientists), Americans have turned to the states for a solution. Last year, over 50 GE labeling bills were introduced in 26 states, including Hawaii, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Indiana, and Missouri.
But the the industry-backed DARK Act will cut these state labeling bills off at the knees and replace them with an undemocratic, hollow “voluntary” labeling scheme that does nothing to address consumer interests and only serves to allow corporations to deny us our right to know.
Will you help us stop this industry attack?
Contact your U.S. Representative and urge him or her to oppose the DARK Act.
We know the industry groups are already talking with legislators to gain support for the bill before it is filed — so we need to take action now.
You can find out who represents you by going to www.house.gov or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
Call and ask to speak to the staffer who handles food issues. Explain that you’re a constituent and that you want the right to know whether your food contains GMOs — and that the Big Food companies have already proven that they will not do so voluntarily. You can find more talking points in our sample letter below.
A phone call is more effective than an email. If you do send an email, please be sure to add a couple of personal sentences in the beginning so that it’s not just a form message!
Subject: Protect states’ right to require labeling
I want to know what is in the food I buy and feed my family. That is why I support mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.
Unfortunately, some Members of Congress want to keep me in the dark by preempting state labeling laws and preventing the FDA from ever requiring labeling. That is why I urge you to oppose the “DARK Act,” an industry-backed bill to block GMO labeling that was introduced last year by Representatives Mike Pompeo and G.K. Butterfield
The bill does nothing useful — there is no need for Congress to adopt voluntary labeling, since companies have had that option ever since GMOs were introduced in our food supply. What the bill really does is deny states the right to pass meaningful mandatory GMO food labeling bills.
The free market can only work when consumers have the information they need to make informed choices among different products. It is absurd to claim that voluntary labeling addresses the issue. In the 13 years that FDA has allowed companies to voluntarily label genetically engineered foods, not one single company has done so. Without mandatory labeling, consumers are effectively being defrauded.
We need change, but this is not it. I expect Congress to support my right to know about the food I purchase and feed my family, not undermine it.