A bill sponsored by Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, preventing individual states from requiring labeling of genetically engineered (GMO) foods, has been rejected after full Senate consideration. Wenonah Hauter, the Executive Director of the Food & Water Watch noted that Senator Robert’s bill, best described as “the Denying Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act,” would have also stopped pending state laws, that require labeling of GMOs, from going into effect.
The three states of Vermont, Connecticut and Maine have laws pending that require labeling of GMOs. The effective date of Vermont’s law is July 1, 2016. Connecticut’s law contains a trigger that allows it to go into effect when Northeast states, with a combined population of 20 million, adopt similar laws. Similarly, Maine’s law becomes effective only if five contiguous states pass labeling laws.
The Center for Food Safety on its website, maintains a map that details the status of legislation on the state level to require the labeling of GMOs. It’s simple and easy to learn the current status of similar labeling of GMOs legislation in each of the fifty states by clicking on the Center’s State Labeling Legislation Map.
Wenonah Hauter summed up the status of the attempt in Congress, well funded by Monsanto and other industrial agriculture corporations, to bar states from acting to require the labeling of GMOS in the press release just issued by the Food & Water Watch:
“Many Senators properly noted that this bill fails to solve the problem it claims to fix. Instead, by blocking state laws from going into effect and replacing them with voluntary measures and impractical alternatives to labeling, it would have ensured that big food processing companies and the biotechnology industry continue to profit by misleading consumers.
“Another common message from many Senators was the need to continue negotiating about the contents of this bill. But more compromise will not fix the problem at the core of Senator Roberts’ approach: Blocking state laws that require GMO labeling will strip away the ability of states to protect the public’s right to know what is in its food. Any version of this bill that would result in anything less than mandatory on-package labeling is unacceptable.
“People want to know if the food they buy contains GMO ingredients. It’s time for Congress to create a mandatory on-package labeling requirement so people can decide for themselves whether they want to eat a food that has been produced using genetic engineering.
“The majority of Americans support labeling for GMOs and will hold their elected officials accountable if they vote to strip away transparency about how their food is produced. We urge the Senate to continue to reject bills that would block state labeling laws.”
The Organic Consumers Association emphasizes that today’s failure to pass the DARK Act was “an exciting preliminary victory.” The few Democrats who voted for the DARK Act [Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.)] were balanced out by a few Republicans who broke ranks [Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.)]. OCA notes further that after the vote on the DARK Act failed today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) flipped his vote from yes to no, a procedural maneuver that allows the Senate to bring an amended version of the DARK Act back into the realm of the “un-dead.”
OCA asks, “How soon could the DARK Act be resurrected?” and suggests it may be “As early as this week, or perhaps in two weeks, after the Senate returns from its recess.” OCA suggests reaching out to thank those Senators who voted for consumers, not Monsanto, today.
Click here to see how your Senators voted and then call the Capitol switchboard at 1-202-224-3121 to voice your opinion.
(Frank Barrie, 3/16/16)