You heard right, the "DARK Act" is back. Next week, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) is planning to introduce a bill that would block state rights to label genetically engineered (GE) food, even if labeling laws are already on the books. The bill would also prohibit states from regulating GE crops at all.
Dubbed the "Denying America's Right to Know" Act by opponents, a version of this bill (H.R. 1599) was passed through the House last summer. Given how much money pesticide and GE seed corporations have spent in recent years to keep GE labeling laws off the books, Monsanto and friends are keen to push this bill through the Senate as well.
GE labels — coming to a store near you?
Polls paint a clear picture: 90 percent of Americans support mandatory labels on food that includes genetically engineered ingredients. Other countries are already leading the way, with 64 countries — including all 28 members of the European Union, Japan, Australia, China and Brazil — currently requiring GE labels.
Some U.S. food companies like Campbell Soup are starting to voluntarily label their products, but there is no federal rule on the books yet. And several states have passed labeling laws in recent years. But if the DARK Act passes, Vermont's law — currently set to go into effect in July — will be overturned. (Connecticut and Maine also passed labeling laws, but they're dependent on neighboring states doing the same.)
Thanks to millions of dollars invested by pesticide and biotech corporations like Monsanto, Dow and DuPont, high profile labeling efforts in California and Washington were defeated at the ballot. Why do these corporations so strongly oppose GE labeling? They're looking to protect market share. Most of the GE crops they patent and sell are designed for use with heavy applications of pesticides they also patent and sell — and many of these chemicals are linked with concerning health impacts, like cancer.
Passing the DARK Act would clearly simplify the issue for Monsanto, but it would keep consumers in the dark. As the editorial board of The New York Times points out, "There is no harm in providing consumers more information about their food."