In a vote that’s to be expected, the House passed the DARK Act last week, 275-150.
HR 1599 – "Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015" – is Monsanto’s dream bill – it permanently prohibits the FDA, state and local governments from requiring labeling or regulating genetically modified foods (GMOs), and foods that contain GMOs can be labeled "natural." That’s why it is dubbed by the opposition as the DARK Act: "Deny Americans the Right to Know" Act.
As we have previously reported, under the bill, industry can voluntarily label foods with GMOs, but that’s already allowed and no company has shown interest in doing so, other than Whole Foods Market and Chipotle.
The legislation erases more than 130 local and state statutes, regulations and ordinances in 43 states and blocks any going forward. In 2013 and 2014 more than 30 states introduced legislation to require GMO labels, and Vermont, Connecticut and Maine have passed GMO labeling laws.
Big Food companies through the Grocery Manufacturers Association – which wrote the bill – and Monsanto and other GMO companies, poured millions of dollars into lobbying efforts to pass it.
Its sponsor, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) is one of the single biggest recipients of campaign funds from Koch Industries, and Reps that voted for the bill received triple the contributions from the food and agriculture industries, according to Open Secrets. Collectively, they pulled in $29.9 million during the 2014 election cycle – about $109,000 each.
Over 300 farmer, consumer and environmental groups oppose the DARK Act, including the second largest farming group- the National Farmers Union.
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer recently listed glyphosate (Roundup) and 2,4 D as probable and possible human carcinogens, respectively. Roundup is the most widely used herbicide in the world.
GMO labeling is nothing new – except in the US. Over 64 countries mandate labels and food prices haven’t gone up as US industries assert.
While a companion bill hasn’t yet been introduced in the Senate, a competing bill has – The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, sponsored by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR). It directs the FDA to require GMO labels, providing a uniform national standard.
"Monsanto’s subversion of democratic legal processes is not new. In fact, it is their modus operandi, be it the subversion of LA’s decision to be GMO-free by amending the California Seed Law – equating corporations with persons and making seed libraries and exchange of seed beyond 3 miles illegal – or suing Maui County for passing a law banning GMO crops," says Dr. Vandana Shiva, who has been trying to stop cultivation in India.
Recently, a court upheld an ban on planting GMO crops in two counties in Oregon even after Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and others spent almost $1 million to defeat it. The Grocery Manufacturers Association and the International Dairy Foods Association lost in Vermont, where GMO label requirements go into effect next year.
Neil Young’s Monsanto Years Tour
Neil Young just completed his tour, singing songs from the Monsanto Years album, such as "The farmer knows he’s got to grow what he can sell, Monsanto, Monsanto, So he signs a deal for GMOs that makes life hell with Monsanto, Monsanto, Every year he buys the patented seeds, Poison-ready they’re what the corporation needs, Monsanto."
He also released a 10-minute documentary, "Seeding Fear," timed with the House vote. It tells the story of Monsanto’s 2003 lawsuit against two Alabama farmers for patent infringement – planting GMO soybeans without paying for them. It was settled out of court in 2006.
"Even after the lawsuit was over, I couldn’t make him believe it was over. He would cry and keep saying, ‘Oh, they’re going to come back and sue me again,’" Michael says in the documentary. "It destroyed him. It destroyed his life. He went to his grave-this grave-still afraid of Monsanto," says Neil Young.
"Monsanto is a corporation with great wealth, now controlling over 90% of soybean and corn growth in America. Family farms have been replaced by giant agricorp farms across this great vast country we call home. Farm aid and other organizations have been fighting the losing battle against this for 30 years now," he says.
"The film I would like you to see tells the story of a farming family in America, but the same thing is happening around the world," he says. "It illustrates why I was moved to write ‘The Monsanto Years."
Here it is: