Last Wednesday, the U.S. Senate rejected a controversial bill that would have made labeling genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food products voluntary. Also known as the DARK Act (Deny Americans the Right to Know), the bill would have undone any labeling laws that some states have already passed (most notably, Vermont’s GMO labeling law that is set to go into effect on July 1, 2016), and it would actually have made it harder, if not impossible, for the Food and Drug Administration to require mandatory national labeling of GMOs.
Instead, the Senate did the right thing. Against pressures and huge lobbying efforts from corporations like Monsanto, they voted against it. Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, said, “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.”
Polls show that GMO labeling is supported by over 90% of Americans. Even many people who don’t necessarily believe there is a benefit to eating non-GMO foods (vs. foods that have been genetically modified, often to receive extraordinarily high applications of herbicides and pesticides) feel that we have the right to know what is in our food, so that we are able to make a choice.
Currently, 64 countries around the world require labeling of GMOs and at least 26 have complete or partial bans on GMOs. So the defeat of the DARK Act is a step in the right direction. We know the fight is not over, though, as opponents to clear, on-package GMO labeling are still working to to pass watered-down legislation that would prevent easy access to GMO information. Hopefully, the United States can continue moving forward to improve product labeling or ban completely GMOs completely.
Photo from here, with thanks.