Monsanto Wants to Keep You in The DARK

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Monsanto Wants to Keep You in The DARK

We have nutrition labels that list ingredients, calories, vitamins and other important food facts. Why should GMOs be any different? (Photo: Becker1999/flickr/cc)

In the absence of a federal requirement to label GMOs, food activists have taken matters into their own hands, passing labeling laws in Vermont, Maine and Connecticut and putting the issue on the ballot in California, Washington, Colorado and Oregon. Big Food and its friends in the biotechnology industry haven’t liked this one bit, and have spent over $80 million over the past several years to defeat GMO labeling ballot initiatives.

If you’ve been following the debate recently, you also know that companies like Monsanto have launched an aggressive PR campaign to sell the public on this questionable technology. Even beloved scientist Bill Nye has joined the fray, flipping his previously critical position on GMOs after a recent visit to Monsanto’s headquarters.

As we’ve said before, the debate over GMOs isn’t just about their possible environmental and public health effects. It’s also about who controls the food system.

Today, Big Food’s play for control became ever more clear when Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS) introduced the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which might as well be called the “Denying Americans the Right to Know” Act (DARK Act), or Monsanto’s Dream Bill. This is not Pompeo’s first ride in the GMO rodeo. He first introduced this bill in the last Congress. Apparently the wave of state-level progress towards labeling GMOs rankled the giant companies that sell GMOs or make processed food out of them, so their trade association, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, decided to cut them off from the get-go by orchestrating federal legislation to block the states from getting in the labeling game.

In addition to preempting state-level GMO labeling efforts, the bill would also make it harder for FDA to set up a federal labeling requirement and would basically uphold our current, flawed system for GMO approvals. And what about those voluntary non-GMO labels you see on some foods now? Under the DARK Act, USDA would oversee those labels, and they’d most likely be weakened. Of course, this is all window dressing for the bill’s primary intent—to prevent activists from passing GMO labeling bills on the state level.

We should be able to make informed choices about what we eat and feed our families. After all, we have nutrition labels that list ingredients, calories, vitamins and other important food facts. Why should GMOs be any different? Over 90 percent of Americans support the labeling of GMOs. This is an impressive consensus, one that we don’t see on many issues in the U.S. Let’s not let Monsanto, Dow, Coca-Cola and Kraft take away our right to know with bills like this that keep us in the dark.

It’s time to shine a light on GMOs and ensure that they’re properly labeled. Tell your member of Congress to protect our right to know by opposing the Dark Act.

Wenonah Hauter

Wenonah Hauter

Wenonah Hauter is the executive director of the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch. She has worked extensively on energy, food, water and environmental issues at the national, state and local level. Experienced in developing policy positions and legislative strategies, she is also a skilled and accomplished organizer, having lobbied and developed grassroots field strategy and action plans.

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