HR 1599 the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,” introduced by representative Mike Pompeo of Kansas, has become known by organic and natural foods advocates as the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act .
Pushed by the GMO industry, the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Foods, the bill would ban state governments from adopting any law involving the labeling of GMO foods, ban any federal agency, specifically the FDA, from adopting mandatory labeling rule and also ban private food production companies from using GMO-free labels. Instead, the DARK Act would institute a “voluntary” GMO labeling effort administered by the federal government that would require food producers to pay them to have their foods labeled GMO free.
The law also contains another, even more sinister provision that bans states or counties from passing any law regulating GMO crops thereby allowing the federal government to block states from regulating herbicides sprayed on GMO fields, proven toxic chemical sprays like glyphosate (Round-up) and 2,4-D that has been linked to cancer, hormonal problems, suppressed immune function and Parkinson’s disease.
Because most GMO crops are engineered to be resistant to these herbicides, the chemicals are sprayed in enormous quantities across 228 million acres planted with GMOs, fields within a stone’s throw of schools, churches and residential areas.
On July 23, 2015, this bill passed the House, against the wishes of 90% of Americans in favor of mandatory labeling of GMO products, on a vote of 275 to 150, thanks to $29.9 million spent by Monsanto and Big Ag to sway your representatives during the 2014 cycle. That’s nearly three times as much as the average $38,977 per lawmaker drawn by the 138 Democrats and 12 Republicans voting nay. If you want to know specifically which representatives sold us out, check this link.
Cumulative contributions from these special interests came to $5.8 million. And, you can bet they’ve already spent, or are still spending, at least that much to lobby Senators, in order to turn the DARK Act into law. And with that amount of money buying votes, you can bet there will be a Senate version of the DARK Act soon!
According to an article in the Huff Post, over the past decade, food and agriculture front groups such as the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, an anti-GMO labeling group have formed with a tried and true modus operandis – “we care about consumers’ right to affordable food.” Their true intentions, of course, are to keep the food industry as unaccountable as possible. The New Yorker also featured a fascinating and disturbing piece on how the industry systematically undermines, discredits, and attacks researchers who speak out on the dangers of their products.
It is crucial for public health and nutrition advocates to pay attention to what front groups do and to be aware of who funds them in order to gain true insight into Big Food and Big Ag’s real intentions, especially. More often than not, it becomes clear that industry’s actions are not about being part of the solution, but rather setting up obstacles to help protect their bottom line.