This week, the House of Representatives will vote on legislation that would prevent sates from labeling genetically modified foods (H.R. 1599). Better known as the DARK Act (Deny Americans the Right to Know), if passed, the legislation would also restrict the Food and Drug Administration’s ability to mandate a national labeling program for genetically modified foods—something 64 countries already do.
The bill has already passed through a House committee, even though it’s the source of widespread opposition, particularly among Democrats and consumer advocacy groups.
"Consumers increasingly want to know more about where their food comes from and how it is produced," Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, told USA Today about the voluntary approach. This bill "satisfies that demand while also recognizing what we know about the safety of the food that our farmers produce."
If passed, the House bill would allow companies to instead label their products as GMO-free if they qualify, by applying to the Agriculture Department, which is now offering a certification process similar to the popular "USDA organic" labeling initiative. “The Food and Drug Administration would then review the safety of a product before it enters the marketplace, putting into law a process that is currently voluntary but widely used by food companies,” reports USA Today.
But that’s not enough to satisfy public safety groups or concerned consumers who insist a right to know is critical. "It doesn't matter if you think GMOs are terrific or whether you hate them, I think we all should be able to agree that the American people ought to get what they want, to know what is in their food," said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. "It makes me nervous when I hear from some in the industry who keep pushing back against labeling. It's like, what are they trying to hide?"
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