On Friday, President Obama signed a GMO labeling “compromise” bill (S. 764) into law. Known as the Deny Americans the Right to Know or DARK Act by many, this bill effectively overturns Vermont’s law to label genetically engineered (GE) food — and bars other states from instituting similar policies.
In place of clear, simple, on-package labels indicating that food contains GE ingredients, the bill President Obama just signed only mandates QR codes or a 1-800 number to be printed on packaging — with no specific mention of GE ingredients. Critics of the bill have pointed out that only those with smartphones can scan QR codes, leaving millions of Americans still in the dark about what’s in their food and how it’s grown.
PAN’s senior scientist Marcia Ishii-Eiteman issued the following statement:
“PAN is deeply disappointed with President Obama’s decision to sign the DARK Act, an industry-backed bill that was clearly designed to obscure rather than provide us with information we all have a right to know. Billed by its supporters as a “compromise” on labeling, the DARK Act in fact simply protects the market interests of biotech corporations like Monsanto by shielding them from a public that’s increasingly concerned about our food system’s over-reliance on genetically engineered (GE) crops and the pesticides they’re grown with.
And by only including QR codes on food packaging, without specific mention of GMOs, this law discriminates against those who don’t own smartphones, particularly low-income and rural communities. It would take the same amount of ink — or less — to simply include a label identifying the GE ingredients in the product.
By signing the DARK Act, President Obama has failed to keep his campaign promise of support for GMO labels. The White House needs to realize that the public demand for transparency, integrity and accountability won’t go away. ”
Contact: Paul Towers, firstname.lastname@example.org, 916-216-1082