Boston, MA – Today, a coalition of consumer, community, farming and public health organizations working to pass a GMO food labeling law, thanked the Massachusetts congressional delegation for voting against HR1599, known as the Denying Americans the Right-to-Know (DARK) Act. The DARK Act passed the House 275-150, but eight of nine Massachusetts House members voted no. Representative Bill Keating (D-MA) did not vote on the bill.
“We are very grateful to the members of the Massachusetts delegation that voted against this blatant attempt by the food manufacturers and agro-chemical industry to squash states’ rights and consumers right to know,” said Martin Dagoberto, of MA Right to Know GMOs. “We hope that Senators Warren and Markey will stand with the House delegation and help defeat this awful legislation in the U.S. Senate.”
The DARK Act pre-empts state and local control over genetically engineered foods, often referred to as genetically modified organisms or GMOs, without putting a real system in place. Instead, the DARK Act would establish a federal policy of voluntary labeling for GMOs, which will fail to help consumers. The bill also creates a federal government bureaucracy for non-GMO labeling, even though there is already a private system that’s working well, and prevents state and local governments from implementing any sort of oversight of GMO crops, even when the federal government has declined to regulate them.
To date, Connecticut, Maine and Vermont have passed labeling laws, and many other states, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island are considering their own bills. Supporters of the DARK Act claim that federal preemption is needed because food manufacturers would have trouble complying with a patchwork of state laws. But every state law on GMO labeling that has been adopted, and the overwhelming majority of the bills that have been proposed in recent years, share the same core elements, including the definitions of key terms, what level of GMO ingredients trigger the labeling requirement, and the exemptions. No patchwork currently exists, nor is there likely to be one.
“I am disappointed to see this proposal advance on the federal level,” said State Representative Todd M. Smola. “States have every right to demand the labeling of GMO’s on products without federal intervention. GMO labeling is an open and transparent proposal that will provide consumers with information so that they can be well informed to make decisions about the products they buy. All we are looking to do is equip people with the facts. It will be up to them as to what they do with that information.”
“I support the growing movement in Massachusetts to consider GMO labeling and believe that each state should have the opportunity to debate the merits of this issue and enact laws to make sure consumers can make informed decisions about the food products they buy,” said State Senator Joan Lovely.
“Massachusetts is full of savvy consumers who are asking to know about the products they use and the food they eat. We demand high standards,” said State Representative Ellen Story. “Every mother deserves to know what her baby is eating. Every farmer deserves to know what crops are growing in her fields. Every person has a right to observe the religious dietary restrictions of her choice. Labeling makes good on those needs. I cannot believe that in the 21st century, Congress could seriously be considering hiding this information from us.”
The Massachusetts bill, H. 3242 – An Act establishing the genetic engineering transparency food and seed labeling act –would ensure that all foods sold in Massachusetts that contain genetically engineered ingredients be clearly labeled. The bill is sponsored by 154 of 200 legislators in Massachusetts, and will hopefully come up for a vote in 2015.
A full list of co-sponsors can be found at http://marighttoknow.org/endorsements. For more information on the coalition visit: http://www.marighttoknow.org or Facebook.