Do you have the right to know what is in the food you eat? According to many concerned scientists, doctors, researchers, some 300 companies and millions of concerned citizens, the answer is yes. But according to many multinational corporations, the answer is no. On July 24, 2015, the members of the US House of Representatives showed America just how much they honor their constituents by overwhelmingly passing H.R 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 (or the nickname given by its opponents: Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act).
The DARK Act was introduced by U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, (R-Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) with the deliberate intent to overturn state labeling laws that have passed in Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine, and stop any future laws from passing. In the last two years, 30 States have introduced legislation requiring the labeling of GMO foods and the food industry has spent billions in stopping them.
The four main points of the DARK Act are:
- It would negate all existing GMO labeling laws thus codifying the current, broken system.
- The bill would give jurisdiction over non-GMO certification to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which would use GMO “safety” review system based on industry
- There is language in the bill that preempts state and local laws regarding the limiting of production of GMO crops, not just labeling.
- The bill would expand the definition of “natural” to include some genetically modified ingredients.
In January, Associated Press-GfK ran a poll and found over 75% of Americans support the labelling of genetically modified ingredients on food packages. Other polls were run with similar results. Labeling GMO ingredients is popular with the American people yet, this Bill passed overwhelmingly in the House. Why would that happen?
Well, just follow the money. The agribusiness sector and food and beverage industry “donated” over $29.9 million, an average of $108,900 per member during the 2014 election cycle, to the 230 Republicans and 45 Democrats who voted to pass the bill. The 138 Democrats and 12 Republicans Congress members who voted against it received nearly one third less at an average of $38,977 per lawmaker.
Since 1990, more than $115.1 million (an average of $418,644 per member) has gone into the election campaign coffers of those who voted for this act whereas only $25.8 million for those who voted against it ($171,785 per member). These figures certainly show that there is more than plants that are green in agribusiness.
“Today’s vote to deny Americans the right to know what’s in their food and how it’s grown was a foregone conclusion. This House was bought and paid for by corporate interests, so it’s no surprise that it passed a bill to block states and the FDA from giving consumers basic information about their food.” Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs for Environmental Working Group (EWG).
“We’re confident the Senate will defeat the DARK Act,” continued Faber. “We continue to hope that thoughtful food companies that listen to their customers will work with consumer groups to craft a non-judgmental GMO disclosure to put on the back of food packaging. Americans should have the same right as citizens of 64 other countries to know what’s in their food and how it’s grown.”
Just like the massive public outcry against TPP, millions of Americans contacted their Congressman to voice opposition to this travesty and just like TPP, Congress simply followed the money and voted yes. We must shed the blinders from our eyes and stop being victims of the illusion that Congress works for us, they don’t and haven’t for decades. We must be vocal and tireless, to do otherwise is to surrender all rights to safe foods as Monsanto and cronies continue to poison the globe.