Great news! Two days ago, the Senate voted to block a bill that would keep states from labeling genetically engineered (GE) food — or regulate GE crops at all.
If passed, this bill — dubbed the “Denying America’s Right to Know” Act , or DARK Act — would have nullified existing labeling laws, like the one set to go into effect in Vermont this July. It would also prohibit existing state and local rules to restrict genetically engineered crops in any way, even if those laws are already on the books.
As an additional nod to corporate interests, the bill included a program to use taxpayer dollars to promote biotech-driven “educational” programs about GE products, or GMOs. As indicated by the official name, the Biotech Labeling Solutions Act, this legislation clearly supported the agenda of biotech corporations like Dow, Monsanto and the rest of the “Big 6.”
The pesticide connection
It’s not surprising that biotech corporations oppose GE labeling, and want to settle the issue once and for all. Many of their GE products are designed for use with frequent applications of the pesticides they also patent and manufacture. And people in states across the country are starting to understand this connection more clearly. In Hawai’i, for instance, five of the Big 6 pesticide corporations manage GE test plots that expose the surrounding community and environment to a strong cocktail of toxins. Many across the islands are working hard regain the land to grow food and put more health-protective policies in place.
Voices over dollars
It has been evident for quite some time that people in the U.S. want to know what’s in their food. A November 2015 poll re-confirmed that a significant majority of Americans — 90% — support labeling GE food. But regardless of widespread demand to know what’s in our food, and how it’s grown, Big Ag continues to put up a big fight. They spent over $100 million in 2015 alone to defeat GMO labeling.
In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of people — including more than 27,000 from the PAN community — spoke out against the DARK Act, and sent a loud, clear message to the Senate to oppose the bill. People took to social media, directly contacted their senators, and voiced concerns to news outlets.
And the message was heard, at least by some senators. Thanks to everyone who got engaged and joined the groundswell of opposition, this bad bill has been put to bed. We’re going to make sure it stays there.