Last month we brought you news of H.R. 4432, a bill GMO Right-to-Know activists are calling the Dark Act. The Dark Act went nowhere in the last Congress, but U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo of Kansas is preparing to reintroduce another bill just like it for 2015. His bill would deny every state in the country the ability to pass GMO labeling laws. This lobbyist-drafted legislation would undo years of work that went into passing GMO labeling laws in Vermont, Connecticut and Maine. On top of that, it would obstruct the efforts of grassroots movements in dozens of states that are seeking to give citizens the right to know what’s in their food.
Across the country, states are stepping forward to peel back the layers of secrecy that agribusiness and the grocery lobbies would like to maintain by keeping GMO foods unlabeled. In January 2015 alone, state legislatures in Indiana, Missouri, Virginia, New York, Arizona, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts have introduced bills that would require the disclosure of GMOs.
In the wake of the growing grassroots movement, the corporate giants are going all-in to try to stop labeling once and for all. As with so many issues in American politics, a few very powerful corporations with deep pockets are controlling the levers of power at the federal level, drowning out Americans' voices by flooding our democracy with corporate money. In initial hearings, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress expressed willingness to favor lobbyist cash over states’ rights and public opinion when it comes to GMO labeling. Why fight the battle in each state when you can buy Congress once?
A strong majority of Americans want to see mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms in their food. In a December Associated Press-GfK poll, 66% say GMO labeling is very important. Only 7% are opposed to the idea. Support for GMO labeling crosses party lines. Nearly an equal number of Republicans and Democrats would like to see GMO labels on their food.
The Kansas City Star quoted one Republican voter:
Jay Jaffe, a Republican from Philadelphia, says he strongly favors labeling even though he has no problem buying GMOs. He thinks there should be accountability in the food industry. "It should be there and not in small print," he said of GMO labels. "People should be able to make a choice."
Will the endless stream of money to our Congress trump our voices? Will it undo the bipartisan work in states from coast to coast? Ben & Jerry’s says no! Our voices can still win this battle.
As Representative Mike Pompeo gets ready to reintroduce the Dark Act, activists and organizations around the country are rallying to reach out to elected officials to voice their opposition. You can do the same. Write your representatives and your senators. Tell them that Americans are united; we have the right to know what’s in our food. Tell them that your state should be able to enact laws that give its citizens the information to make decisions.
To find the phone numbers and email addresses of your senators and representatives visit: http://contactingthecongress.org/