The industry-sponsored voluntary GMO labeling bill is heading for a floor vote in the House, and could be voted on any day now. URGENT Action Alert!
Last week, the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015” introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS)—better known by pro-labeling advocates as the “Deny Americans’ Right to Know (DARK) Act”—was approved by the House Agriculture Committee.
The next stop for the bill was supposed to be the Energy and Commerce Committee. But hours after the Ag Committee approved it, the announcement came that the bill would go right to the House floor just days later, bypassing Energy and Commerce altogether.
Regular readers will remember that the DARK Act would pre-empt state-level, mandatory GMO labeling efforts with a wholly voluntary federal standard. Companies could elect to apply to the USDA for a “GMO-free” label, and then the FDA would review the product—or they could elect not to label their products at all, leaving consumers in the dark about what’s in their food. The bill is being pushed by the biotech industry and the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association.
New additions to the DARK Act also prevent local communities from banning GMO crops!
If the DARK Act passes the House, its next stop would be the Senate. We reported in May that Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) is preparing his own—again, completely voluntary—GMO labeling bill. Whether the Senate will consider the House-approved DARK Act, or Hoeven’s bill when it’s ready, or neither, remains to be seen.
These developments come on the heels of a new study that raises even more concerns about the safety of GMO foods. The study, published in the Agricultural Sciences journal, found evidence that genetic modifications can destroy the equilibrium in cells, in some cases resulting in an accumulation of formaldehyde. The study makes suggestions as to how to improve health and safety testing of GMOs as the White House begins a review of how the government regulates GMOs (see the next article in this week’s Pulse for more details).