Over the past few years, there has been a food awakening growing across the United States. More and more people are choosing to eat simpler, more natural, and organic foods. They are also rejecting foods with genetically modified ingredients because they are concerned about the health and environmental risks of these GM foods, which haven’t been tested for safety and are leading to huge increases in pesticide use.
As a result, Americans have been calling for foods containing these GMO ingredients to be labeled. Citizens have lobbied their state governments to pass laws to require labeling. Several courageous state legislatures have passed laws, including Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine. People in California, Washington, and Oregon launched ballot initiatives to label GM foods in their states. These were narrowly defeated only because major food and GMO/pesticide corporations spent millions of dollars to defeat them.
In an ideal democracy—even a decent democracy—a national government would respond to the wishes of its citizens and enact mandatory GMO labeling.
Instead, the US government has done the opposite—attempt to crush such initiatives, pushed by those same corporations. The House of Representatives recently passed the so-called “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,” popularly known as the DARK Act (Deny Americans the Right to Know).
In the dystopian society described in George Orwell’s book 1984, a slogan was “War is Peace.” Today Congress is telling us “Denying Americans the Right to Know” is “Ensuring Consumer Choice.”
This bill was dubbed the DARK Act because that is exactly what it is. It preempts state labeling initiatives, establishes voluntary, i.e. meaningless GMO labeling, and creates a weak voluntary verification system for non-GMO foods. It is an assault on the democratic process.
Now the fight over labeling goes to the Senate where passing such unpopular legislation will have a tougher time. Let’s hope it goes nowhere there.
When historians look back on this era of Citizens United, of our government being the lap dog for large corporations while ignoring the interests of its citizens, they will point to the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act as a dark example.
The good news is that the food awakening will only continue to grow, and this desperate attempt to crush it will ultimately fail—one way or another.