The DARK Act
By Tina Beaudoin, ND
The “Denying Americans the Right-to-Know” (DARK) Act is the moniker given to House of Representative Bill 1599, sponsored by Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas. The bill passed the House of Representatives on July 23, 2015 by a vote of 275 to 150. Here are the key points of H.R. 1599:
- Nullifies all current GMO-labeling laws
- Prevents states from creating safety policies around production of GMO crops (not just labeling) to protect public health and the environment
- Authorizes the USDA to develop non-GMO certifications, which don’t require testing or segregation of crops
- Allows foods labeled as “natural” to contain genetically engineered ingredients and prevents states from regulating potentially misinformative “natural” claims
In 2014, Vermont was the first state to successfully pass a standalone bill (Act 120) that requires mandatory GMO-labeling; the bill is set to go into effect on July 1, 2016. Shortly thereafter, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) filed a lawsuit against the State of Vermont alleging that the law violates the First Amendment, along with other issues. In April 2015, the first round of litigation came to an end when the District Court for the District of Vermont issued an opinion in favor of upholding Act 120. However, additional appeals are expected, as those who oppose GMO-labeling legislation have very deep pockets.
The DARK Act would nullify the Vermont law along with the GMO-labeling laws passed by Connecticut and Maine. The Connecticut and Maine laws both have some strings attached that require four neighboring states to pass similar legislation before their laws take effect. There are also numerous bills throughout the country pursuing similar legislation. The DARK Act still needs to pass through the US Senate and be signed by the President before becoming law.
Whereas most of the developed world has taken a definitive stance on GMO-labeling, the debate continues in the US. The European Union, Russia and China are just a few of the 64 nations that require mandatory labeling of GMOs. If you want to take action, be sure to stay abreast of the DARK Act and contact your U.S. Senator or Representative to weigh in.