Earlier this year we reported that Monsanto and the Big Food lobby were preparing national legislation to squash the push toward GMO labels on food.
That legislation has been introduced in the House and is written by the food industry’s trade and lobbying arm, the Grocery Manufacturers Association. It comes with a homey-sounding name, the "Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act," but GMO Labeling activists christened it, the DARK Act: "Deny Americans the Right-to-Know."
Because the bill Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) introduced would make it illegal for mandatory GMO-labeling on both federal and state levels – a wonderful Earth Day gift to corporate interests.
It would also:
- allow companies to label their products as "natural" even if they contain GMO ingredients. States would be barred from preventing that, as Connecticut has done.
- Limit the authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to compel companies to disclose GMO ingredients, but the FDA could allow voluntary labeling. Voluntary labels are allowed right now – have you noticed any foods that have GMOs with labels? No.
Right now, the FDA could use its regulatory authority to mandate national GMO labels, but even after receiving 14 million comments in favor of it, they haven’t budged. Senator Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced bills in both houses that direct the FDA to do so.
Polls show that over 90% of Americans want GMO labels on foods – about 70% of food products contain at least one GMO ingredient.
Connecticut and Maine are the first to pass GMO labeling laws, soon to be followed by Vermont, and 30 more states are considering it this year.
While the goal is clearly to prevent GMO labels altogether, Pompeo gives this justification to Reuters:
"We’ve got a number of states that are attempting to put together a patchwork quilt of food labeling requirements with respect to genetic modification of foods. That makes it enormously difficult to operate a food system. Campaigns in some of these states aren’t really to inform consumers but rather aimed at scaring them. What this bill attempts to do is set a standard."
He also gives the food industry’s line – that GMO foods are safe are the same as any other food. Labeling isn’t needed and in fact would mislead people. More than that, It "has made food safer and more abundant," he says, calling it a boon for humanity.
He expects hearings on the bill to take place over this summer.
Guess who Pompeo’s top individual contributor is? Good ‘ole Koch Industries, at $238,900, rearing its head once again. He’s received about $170,000 from agribusiness and $81,000 from the food and beverage industry, some of his biggest donations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.