As members of the Farm Direct Coop, we’re all expressing our interest in consciously grown fruits and vegetables. No matter your particular reason – sustainability, desire to support local, reducing exposure to pesticides… one thing is clear, you care about the food you eat. Recently the US House of Representatives passed a bill that allows GMO (genetically modified organism) food companies not to identify their products as GMO’s. It also precludes states from creating GMO food labeling laws.
HR1599; “The Safe and Accurate Food Act” commonly as the “Deny Americans the Right to Know” or DARK Act, shifts the focus from clearly labeling GMO-containing foods to labeling foods that do not contain GMO’s. This act also allows the labeling of GMO-containing products to use the misleading word “natural” on packaging and marketing materials. There’s an extensive write up by Mercola to help bring you up to speed quickly, providing the meaty bits, as well as additional coverage on Civil Eats. There’s additional coverage on amendments to the original filing of the bill on Agri-Pulse.
So what’s the big deal? The jury is still out regarding the safety of GMO foods and, ultimately, it should be your right to decide if you want to buy these products. Several other countries already label GMO’s, why not America too? But lobbyists from large corporations spent hundreds of millions in 2014 alone to bring this act to fruition and keep consumers in the dark. It leaves a lot of open questions, starting with the most obvious posed by Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario, “If GMO’s are safe, why not label them?”.
GMO products now run the gamut from RgBH in milk to fruits like papaya and vegetables like soybeans and now even wheat, grain, and more. There’s no denying that GMO’s will continue to be present in the American food supply for generations to come. Especially if time proves, they are safe. Their prevalence should not be reason enough to deny Americans the right to know. There should be no secret what companies are profiting off your food selections, nor should non-GMO corn reside on the same shelf next to GMO corn. These behaviors do not support a consumer’s right to informed choice.
So what can we do about it? Contact our Senators. Let them know where you stand. Not sure what to say? The Massachusetts Right to Know coalition has some sample letters. Express your right to partake in the laws made by our elected officials. Massachusetts House representatives voted NO! Get the message to our Senate leaders, write a letter asking them to vote for your right to know what goes into the food you buy.