Washington, D.C. - Congress is considering a bill that would make it illegal for states to require GMO labeling. It would negate the ability of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to create a national GMO labeling standard and specifically allow for the labeling of products as “natural,” even when containing GMOs.
But perhaps the most disturbing part of the bill is the fact that it would make it illegal for counties and states to place any restrictions on the planting of GMO crops.
The ominous bill, H.R. 1599, ironically called the Safe Food and Accurate Food Labeling Act (commonly referred to as the DARK Act – the Deny Americans the Right to Know Act), was recently passed by subcommittee and now moves on to a full vote on the House floor.
The ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), has expressed confidence that the bill will pass in the House. Supporters, such as Peterson, emphatically tout the safety of GMO products, claiming that no scientific experts have proven any legitimate safety concerns; a widely disputed position.
"Consumers increasingly want to know more about where their food comes from and how it is produced. I think H.R. 1599 satisfies that demand while also recognizing what we know about the safety of the foods that our farmers produce. The bill is a workable solution that will alleviate the potential mess of 50 states with 50 different labeling schemes,” Peterson said.
A huge portion of America's food contain GMOs, with estimates that as much as 80 percent of packaged foods in grocery stores contains GMO ingredients, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which opposes GMO labeling.
A number of politicians and groups, such as the Center for Food Safety and the Environmental Working Group (EWG), have strongly come out against the bill.
“Americans have the right to know what’s in food and how it was grown — the same as citizens of 64 other nations that require GMO labeling,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s vice president of government affairs. “It’s time for lawmakers to recognize that right and stand for GMO labeling.”
There is currently no companion legislation in the Senate, but if the bill passes the House similar legislation is expected to be introduced.
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Currently, the states of California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington have restrictions in place on the placement of planting of GMO crops. Vermont, Maine, and Connecticut have passed laws requiring GMO labeling.
The planting restrictions are in place to control for the risk of organic farms being contaminated by GMOs, as drift and pollen carried via bee can spread to the organic farms.
Regardless of what you think about the health and safety of GMOs, it is not disputed that Monsanto uses them to predatorily attack farmers. Monsanto has a team of "inspectors" who roam the country looking for their seeds in unauthorized locations.
Farmers don't even know that this Monsanto GMO is growing in their fields, as it has blown in from a nearby farm, or from a passing truck. However, Monsanto will then sue them for infringing on their patented seed because it is growing in their fields.
This contamination is so widely spread that it is estimated that most organic corn in the U.S. typically contains anywhere from half a percent to 2 percent GMOs, according to companies that sell such corn to organic dairies or poultry farmers.
For organic farmers, the prospect of losing their organic certification has dark implications. Not only would it inevitably drive them out of business due to not being able to sell their products as organic, but this could systematically drive organic farming as whole to the brink of extinction.
Each local jurisdiction has specific sets of issues which need to be addressed when contemplating GMOs. Crafting blanket laws to protect big business interests is contrary to the idea of allowing people to decide what they feel is in their own best interest.
Whether in favor of labeling or not, politicians have shown a blatant disregard for the people whom they claim to represent by attempting to usurp their ability to make these important choices on a state and local level.
The DARK Act is a dangerous piece of legislation, which serves as a blatant example of how the collusion of power and money, in the form of a major lobby and their political cronies, can serve to take away liberty from the American people.
How can anyone claim that not allowing people the ability to know what is in their food, if they choose to know, is somehow a good thing? Outlawing the people of states and counties from deciding what is right for them reeks of oppressive tyranny.
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, free thinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay's work has been published on BenSwann's Truth in Media, Chris Hedges' truth-out, AlterNet and many other sites. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.