Our congressional delegates are elected to represent the will of the people in their constituency. What does that say about our House of Representatives when over 90% of Americans are in favor of having GMOs labeled and those representatives vote against it by an overwhelming 65% majority? That is exactly what happened on July 23 when our U.S. House of “Representatives” passed H.R. 1599, a bill euphemistically called the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015. This hideous bill was introduced by Kansas republican Mike Pompeo, a Monsanto minion if there ever was one. The bill is neither safe nor accurate. It has become better known as the DARK Act, an acronym for Denying Americans of the Right-to-Know Act. This bill will soon make its way to the U.S. Senate and if it eventually gets passed into law, it would, according to the Center for Food Safety:
- Prevent states from initiating their own GMO labeling laws as Vermont, Maine And Connecticut have already done
- Prevent state or local laws from regulating GMO crops that would protect organic farms from the effects and impact of GMO agriculture
- Prevent the FDA from establishing a national mandatory GMO labeling program
In essence this bill would eviscerate federal and individual state legislative power in regard to GMO labeling and regulation. Ronnie Cummins, International Director of the Organic Consumers Association, notes that this bill “is not only anti-consumer, but anti-democracy and anti-state’s rights as well. The DARK Act overturns the century-old balance of power between the federal government and the states, whereby states have exercised their rights to pass numerous laws regarding food safety or food labels when the federal government failed to act.” Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food and Water Watch has dubbed it “Monsanto’s Dream Bill” since it would undermine the efforts of nonprofits like the Non-GMO Project to establish stringent guidelines regarding the labeling of GMO-Free products.
On a more positive note, we can be proud of our Massachusetts House members with eight of nine representatives voting against H.R. 1599 (Rep. Bill Keating did not vote). Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts’ 2nd District which stretches from Northampton to Westborough and includes Worcester, Auburn, Holden, Paxton, Shrewsbury, Grafton and Millbury has been a staunch advocate of mandatory GMO labeling and supporting the local farmers in his district. He has also been outspoken about the disastrous Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United. Rep. McGovern is actively trying to overturn it and tip the scale back to the people and the right to limit the amount of money corporations can spend to influence elections. As the DARK Act now wends its way to the U.S. Senate, please contact the offices of Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey to express your disdain for this nefarious piece of legislation.
At the Massachusetts state level, a bi-partisan coalition of 154 (out of 200) legislators have signed on to Bill H 3242, The Massachusetts GMO Labeling Bill for 2015. The bill is modeled after the GMO labeling laws that have already passed in Vermont, Maine and Connecticut. The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture will hear public comments on GMO labeling at the Massachusetts State House on September 22. Hopefully our state legislators will pass this bill into law and the U.S. Senate will see the light and defeat the Dark Act.
Around 1765 James Otis coined the phrase “taxation without representation is tyranny “and it became a rallying slogan of the Revolutionary War. In 2015 our rallying cry should be “legislation without representation is tyranny”!