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The DARK Act: Monsanto’s Dream & Humanity’s Nightmare

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Outrageous Proposed Bill: Our “right to know” is no longer a privilege

A food label can only claim that a food is non-GMO if the ingredients are subject to certain supply chain process controls. No food label can suggest that non-GMO foods are safer than GMO foods. A food can be labeled as non-GMO even if it is produced with a GMO processing aid or enzyme or derived from animals fed GMO feed or given GMO drugs.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Pompeo’s bill (H.R. 1599)—dubbed the “Denying Americans the Right-to-Know Act” (DARK Act):
Prevents states from adopting their own GE labeling laws.
Prevents state or county laws regulating GE crops
Prevents the Food and Drug Administration from requiring companies to label GE ingredients and instead continue a failed 14-year “voluntary” labeling policy.
The bill also creates a federal certification process for voluntary non-GMO labels. While non-GMO marketing claims allow companies to distinguish themselves in the marketplace, the labeling of non-GE foods and organic foods is limited to only about 2% of products on the shelves and is not a substitute for mandatory disclosure.

But food manufactures say that state-by-state differences in labeling requirements could be costly, and have been working to overturn labeling laws at the federal level since at least 2013. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014 is part of that effort.

The Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for evaluating the safety of biotech crops, has deemed many genetically engineered crops safe to eat. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 94 percent of soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically engineered, as is some 89 percent of corn. The Food and Drug Administration continues to add new varieties of genetically modified crops to the approved list each year. It’s safe to say that all Americans are eating GMOs unless they’re actively working to avoid them by purchasing only organic food or food that has been non-GMO certified.

GMOs have become a particularly divisive issue in the discussions about the American diet, as the two names for the bill illustrate. A number of studies have also shown no negative health consequences associated with consuming GMOs compared with non-GMO crops. However, genetically engineered foods have only existed for about 40 years, and have only been part of the food supply since the 1990s. For some anti-GMO advocates, there’s just not enough evidence to show if GMOs are good or bad.

Pompeo’s bill – christened the “Deny Americans the Right-to-Know” or DARK act by critics – would prevent states from adopting GE labeling laws that have gained widespread support over the last two years. The proposal would also prevent states from making it illegal for food companies to label products that contain GE ingredients as “natural,” as Connecticut has already done.

Connecticut, along with Maine, also passed a law requiring GE labeling. More than 30 other states are taking up legislation to require GE labeling in 2014.

Pompeo’s measure would also limit the authority of the federal Food and Drug Administration to compel companies to disclose GE ingredients. The bill is identical to a legislative proposal floated earlier this year by the food industry’s main trade and lobbying arm, the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

“If the DARK Act becomes law, a veil of secrecy will cloak ingredients, leaving consumers with no way to know what’s in their food,” said Faber. “Consumers in 64 countries, including Saudi Arabia and China, have the right to know if their food contains GMOs. Why shouldn’t Americans have the same right?

Industry groups that stand to gain the most if the DARK Act becomes law have been some of Pompeo’s biggest campaign contributors. Since 1989, agribusiness has given him nearly $170,000, and the food and beverage industry more than $81,000, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.

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