By: Katie O’Brien
On July 23, the United States House of Representatives passed a bill preventing individual states from requiring labels on foods that contain genetically modified ingredients (GMOs). This bill bans states like Vermont, which recently passed GMO labeling laws, from labeling grocery items that contain GMOs. Supporters of the bill claim that there is no scientific consensus of the harm GMOs can cause, and therefore felt that the government should step in to regulate. But many studies claim that GMO foods have risks. While the government claims there is no concrete study that proves health harm from GMO ingredients, since they were introduced in 1996; there has been a rise in chronic illnesses, food allergies, reproductive issues and other disorders such as autism. GMOs also increase the use of toxic herbicide, which can harm ecosystems, reducing bio-diversity. According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, who are supporters of the bill, 80% of packaged foods contain GMOs, and more than 90% or U.S. corn and soybean crops are grown with genetically modified seeds.
The bill known as The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 creates a standard for the voluntary labeling of foods with GMO ingredients. It also created a certification process for companies that want to label their food GMO free, similar to the method of organic food labeling. Thus making it more difficult for companies who choose not to include GMOs in their product. The bill also allows the term “natural” to be included on labels of food containing GMOs. Democrats tried to amend the bill to stop the labeling of GMO foods as “natural”, but failed. The bill passed even though many surveys and polls, as in one done by the Mellman Group, states that at least 90% of the country does want to know what’s in the food they buy.
People have a right to know what is in the food they consume. Many groups have formed in opposition to the bill, which was nicknamed DARK, Denying Americans the Right-to-Know Act, because it will keep consumers in the dark. In an increasing world of transparency, the food industry is falling behind. Consumers should have readily available information about the food that they and their families eat. Opposition to the bill hopes that the senate will ultimately defeat the “DARK” act.