In July this year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 1599, a bill we call the DARK Act (Denying American’s the Right to Know) because it would deny voters the right to pass state bills to label genetically engineered foods (GMOs) and make mandatory labeling at the federal level impossible. This bill, if passed in the Senate, would preempt all state labeling initiatives. Currently there are 3 states that have passed their labeling initiatives, including Maine, Vermont, and Connecticut. To date, over 70 GMO labeling bills have been introduced in 30 states. If the Dark Act passes in the Senate it will not only preempt all the state initiatives, it will allow food that is labeled “natural” to contain genetically modified ingredients. The bill will make the labeling of GMOs only voluntary and prevent any labeling at the National level. It not only preempts labels it prevents bans as well. HR 1599 also will reverse all the crop bans that are in place.
“H.R. 1599 would negate all of these laws, and more–according to the Center for Food Safety. The preemption language in the bill would nullify over a hundred local laws that, directly or indirectly, regulate genetically engineered crops–like GMO crop bans”
Why is there so much lobbying and big money being spent to deny us the right to know? The four largest biotech, agrochemicals and pesticide companies, which includes Monsanto, Dow Chemical, Syngenta, and DuPont (the “Industry”) have a vested interest in keeping the public in the dark. They know that if there is a label on their products that says “contains genetically modified ingredients,” consumers, even consumers who are not fully educated about GMOs, would make a choice to buy a conventional or organic product, because there might be some inherent risk in buying a product that contains GMOs. Many consumers would make that choice because they would consider that risk and the fact that GMOs have no more nutritional value than conventional products and therefore choose the conventional or organic product.
“The Industry also knows that there will be a liability issue on down the road if they label their products containing GMOs, as the truth surfaces about the health risks associated with genetic engineering and their associated chemicals.”
The Industry and the Grocery Manufacturers Association and its members spent nearly $87 Million in 2013 and 2014 to fight GMO labeling initiatives. They were successful in convincing many consumers that the cost of labeling would greatly increase food prices–which has been debunked by Consumer Reports. Consumer Reports found that the median cost that might be passed on to consumers is just $2.30 per person annually, or $9.20 for a family of four. Does this sound like a great increase in food prices? Many companies routinely change their labels to update nutritional information or to market their products. Therefore, adding additional information to their labels would not be burdensome. Another argument that the Industry uses is that it would be too confusing to Americans? I don’t know about you, but this infuriates me as they are insinuating that we are too stupid to understand information on a label. Perhaps they want us to be dumbed-down? Currently, 64 countries require labeling of GMOs. In addition to labeling, 38 countries worldwide have officially banned the cultivation of GM crops. The picture painted by the biotech industry and the U.S. government that GM crops have been accepted by the majority of countries worldwide is therefore quite obviously wrong.
This Industry uses powerful marketing and propaganda and have duped much of the American public into believing we need GMOs to feed the world. Here is why this is not true: More than 40 percent of all U.S. cropland is devoted to GMO crops. Yet even though nearly 80 percent of processed foods sold in the U.S. now contain GMOs, the majority of genetically engineered (GE) crops aren’t grown to feed humans. The bulk of today’s genetically engineered soybeans and corn in particular, are used to feed animals and generate biofuels. GMOs do not feed the world, they feed profit.
Americans consume 193 pounds of GMOs annually. The animals that provide us with nearly all the meat, poultry and dairy we eat are force fed genetically engineered crops that their bodies were never designed to process. Who’s getting healthy on GMOs? It is certainly not the American people, whose health has declined since GMOs were introduced into our food. It is not American farmers, whose numbers have declined since agribusiness has taken over our farmland. It is not the animals being pumped full of antibiotics to ward off illnesses associated with confinement and GMO feed. The only ones getting healthy are these four largest pesticide, agrochemical and biotech companies, Monsanto, DuPont, Dow Chemical, and Syngenta– whose sales have jumped from $60.1 billion in 2004 to $119.3 billion in 2012. This figure has further escalated since 2012.
The other great lie perpetuated by the biotech industry is that GMOs have never been proven unsafe. It’s hard to fathom when you listen to the representatives at the EPA and FDA talk about having no knowledge of any studies proving that GMOs are harmful to human health as they did during these hearings. There are many studies by independent scientists that have shown how GMOs and their associated pesticides are indeed harmful to human health, animals and the environment. Did you know that the FDA relies on the Industrys’ data regarding the safety of their own products?
On October 21, there was a hearing in the Senate on Agricultural Biotechnology which discussed GMO labeling. The food and biotech companies’ PR firms and lobbyists likely wrote most of the senators’ scripts, as they praised GMOs and spoke about how we need this technology to feed the world. They warned of the high cost of mandatory labeling which is greatly fabricated and spoke about the safety of GMOs which is an out-and-out lie! Our senators are supposed to represent the people, but this hearing was not about representing the people, it was about the corporations’ need to maintain their profits at the expense of the American people and their health.
What can you do? If you believe you have the right to know what is in your food no matter how you feel about GMOs, you can make a choice to let your voice be heard. You can contact your senators and ask them to vote “NO” on HR 1599 and to take a stand for labeling so that we are not kept in the dark. If we do not stand up for our rights and allow theses corporations to run our government, we will become a society that has given up on democracy and one that is controlled by these corporations. This is about everyone using their Constitutional right and demanding that their representatives represent the people’s will. Nearly 93% of people in this country think that GMOs should be labeled. The DARK act will be further discussed and decided upon by our Senators in the near future.
Click here for a legal analysis of the DARK Act–which clearly violates our First Amendment Right. The Industry is really hoping that you do not understand this Bill. Prove them wrong! Then, let your voice be heard! Call your Senators today at 202-224-3121.
As Margaret Mead said
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
This blog post was partially funded by the Nut Milk Bag by Nutiana.com
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