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The Dark Act: Dark Times for the Non-GMO Movement

Imagine you take a trip to the grocery store and pick up two types of corn. They both look seemingly similar, but one has been genetically modified and doused in herbicides like glysophate.  The problem is, you don’t know which one it is. How’s that for a gamble?

That scenario is a very real possibility, thanks to a few members of Congress, and now the DARK Act is one step closer to becoming law (link at bottom of article to sign the petition).

The proposed bill, officially known as The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, which is terrifyingly misleading, passed the House of Representatives on July 23rd; an easy win with a 275 to 150 vote. The name of the bill is ironic, considering its entire basis is to put a stop to mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMO) found in many food products today.

Woman choosing produceSupporters of the bill accuse “activists” of scaring the public, claiming that there hasn’t been any connection between GMOs and negative effects. Yet surveys show Americans want their food labeled — 80%-95%, in fact. Without the United States putting GMO-labeling laws in place, we’re at odds with the rest of the developed world. Currently, 64 countries worldwide require the labeling of GMOs, including the entire European Union, Russia and China.

Some U.S. states, tired of waiting for federal action and wanting to meet the people’s demands, decided to take matters into their own hands. Maine, Connecticut and Vermont all passed mandatory GMO-labeling requirements. Great, right? Well, the DARK Act would effectively make those state laws null and void. The bill even goes one step further, limiting the research on consumer’s feelings toward GMO products. Local and state laws can be great litmus tests for a future federal law. The DARK Act would prevent that from ever happening, which is just the tip of the genetically-modified iceberg.

What if it passes:

If the DARK Act were to take effect, it would make any mandatory GMO-labeling laws illegal. Instead, food companies could voluntarily label their products and register with the FDA, but no one would be required to. It would dismantle any state-imposed labeling laws already in effect and severely limit funding toward research on consumers’ feelings on GMOs and labeling. Also, as written now, the bill would allow products that use GMO ingredients to be labeled as “natural.”

Why It’s Scary:

There is no shortage of labeling requirements — everything from clothing to mattresses is labeled. To actually pass a law that would prevent labeling is promoting secrecy in an industry that has an incredible impact on our health. Transparency should not be illegal. After all, there are several surveys out there that suggest labeling wouldn’t scare away consumers, so if that’s the case, why not label?

Additionally, while the long-term health effects of consuming a diet of GMOs are up for debate, there is solid evidence that genetically modified produce need many more herbicides, which means more of Monsanto’s cancer-causing round-up being dumped on crops across the country. Of course, it’s no surprise that Monsanto is spending big bucks to block these GMO-labeling requirements as they come up. It also shouldn’t be surprising that these same companies who develop, patent and sell GMO seeds are the exact same companies who sell the herbicides necessary to kill the ever-growing “superweeds.” 

What Happens Next:

Though this is a detrimental blow to GMO-haters, there’s still ways to go. The bill has to get through the Senate, where there is uncertainty if the bill would pass as written right now. It could be retooled or voted out, where the House would have to make changes before trying again. Regardless, we’ll have to wait a little while for any movement; Congress will have its summer recess soon, so this will pick back up again in the fall.

Taking Action:

With such overwhelming support in favor of GMO labeling, it’s crucial we share these with our representatives — after all, we’re the ones who vote them in. Here is a full list of Representatives who voted for the DARK Act. You can also check out Just Label It for ways that you can voice your support for GMO labeling.

If the bill were to become law, it would be a detrimental step down for the strides made to require labeling, or the lack there of. It’s so very important for us to know what’s in our food. And GMO-labeling may not answer all of the questions, but it’s certainly a fantastic start.

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Call it passion, or maybe curiosity -- whatever it is Jessica is fueled by, it's not slowing down any time soon. From the get-go, she knew that her desire to represent brands with a purposeful story was a strong one, and after graduating with a degree in public relations from SDSU, followed by a solid stint at a lifestyle PR agency, she landed in a role with a company whose story outshines the rest (hint hint, that's here). She's openly obsessed with the outdoors, reveling in cycling races, hiking adventures and, most commonly, brunching on patios. She is known for always taking the "scenic route" -- especially for fish taco pit-stops along the way -- and makes a solid effort to keep her schedule jam-packed with activities and friends, which keeps her on her toes.

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