GMO Free USA Opposes Senate Bill That Would Block State GMO Labeling Laws

 
WASHINGTON - June 27, 2016 - PRLog -- After groundswells by consumer and health advocates thwarted two previous Congressional efforts to nullify state GMO labeling laws, two senators have announced a deal on the newest version of the so-called DARK (Deny Americans Right to Know) Act, S.2609.

The deal reached late last week by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) would nullify mandatory GMO labeling laws passed by Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont and also move GMO labeling authority from the Food and Drug Administration to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Agrichemical and processed food industry representatives have intensified their efforts in Congress leading up to the July 1 implementation of Vermont's mandatory labeling law. Laws passed by Connecticut and Maine will not take effect until nearby states pass similar laws.

In a move that surprised grassroots organizations such as GMO Free USA, the Organic Trade Association (OTA), a "membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America", has publicly endorsed (https://www.ota.com/advocacy/gmos/gmo-labeling) this bill as an acceptable national standard for labeling GMOs after receiving special provisions that benefit the organic industry. OTA's endorsement of the DARK Act is considered by the GMO labeling grassroots to be a huge and divisive blow to the food movement.

"The latest version of the DARK Act is an outrageous betrayal of everything the GMO labeling movement has fought for," said Diana Reeves, Executive Director of GMO Free USA. "The smoke and mirrors in this latest proposal are intended to obscure this bill's central provision, which is a ban on mandatory GMO labeling."

The bill proposes, as an alternative to GMO labeling, a patchwork of options such as QR codes scannable by cell phones that would direct consumers to food companies' websites, toll free phone numbers or a symbol yet to be defined by the USDA. Labeling advocates who have demanded the words "Produced With Genetic Engineering" on food packaging have decried this proposal as a gambit to provide political cover for legislators voting against majority public opinion on this issue, which runs 90 percent in favor of mandatory GMO labeling.

"This bill could have been written by Monsanto itself," said Reeves, referring to the largest producer of genetically engineered seeds worldwide. "It casts aside laws passed by the legislatures of three states and deprives consumers of the basic, modest disclosure of information they want and deserve. As evidence mounts of health harms linked to GMO consumption, disclosure of these ingredients gives consumers the information they need to avoid this technology."

"We should be joining the 38 nations that have instituted bans on this technology. Instead, the United States is preparing to become the first nation on earth to ban mandatory disclosure of GMO ingredients. What does that say about industry influence in our political process?" Reeves added.

Additional concerns about the measure include a new definition of genetic engineering that excludes a vast number of genetically engineered foods that are already on the market and emerging forms of the technology, such as CRISPR/cas9, gene editing and gene cassettes.

GMO Free USA urges its supporters to contact their Senators and demand that they oppose S.2609 and support, instead, a solution that would extend Vermont's law nationally; http://www.gmofreeusa.org/take-action/senate-stop-the-dark-act

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