The Dark Act - HR 1599

You may have heard about the victory in the Senate as they voted March 16, 2016 to block the DARK Act from moving forward. This vote will open the door for the development of GMO labeling legislation that will satisfy consumers and food companies alike.  There has been much buzz among the green community regarding “The DARK Act,” but you may not know what this means or how its demise benefits you, the consumer.

 What IS The DARK Act?

The DARK Act is actually a nickname given to H.R. 1599, or The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. This bill was developed by certain food companies and passed by the House of Representatives in July 2015. It stands for “Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK),” because one of the central issues is whether or not foods containing GMOs (genetically modified organisms) be required by law to disclose this fact on the labeling, and the DARK Act is anti-GMO labeling. For those unfamiliar with GMOs, some food crops have been genetically modified to tolerate heavier doses of pesticides which results in more pesticides in our food, in livestock feed and in the environment. The label "organic" cannot be applied to genetically modified food.

 Since 2001, food companies have been allowed to make voluntary disclosures regarding the presence of GMOs. In 2014, Vermont became the first state to pass a law making GMO labeling mandatory starting in July 2016. Connecticut and Maine have also passed GMO labeling laws. HR. 1599, or The DARK Act, would have prevented GMO labeling laws at the state level – among other things.

What does this mean to you?

 Well, if you’re a Choosy Chick shopper, you not only care about ingredients but also want to buy organic whenever possible to avoid potentially harmful chemicals and pesticides. GMO produce is not organic, and 90% of the corn and soy grown in the U.S. is genetically modified. Also, according to the Center for Food Safety, 70% of processed food contains GMOs. But if food companies are not required to disclose GMO use, you don’t know what you are really buying and cannot make an informed decision for yourself or your family.

There are a number of outstanding online resources regarding the Dark Act and GMO labeling, a few of which are listed below. Instead of attempting to summarize the vast amounts of information available, we invite you to visit these websites and educate yourselves. While this victory is important, this fight is by no means over; our community should continue to follow this issue closely and make our voices heard.

References:

“5 Things To Know About the Dark Act” by Anna Roth, Senior Editor of CivilEats.com, http://civileats.com/2015/07/20/5-things-to-know-about-the-dark-act/

EWG (Environmental Working Group) www.ewg.org and The EWG DARK Act Fact Sheet

Just Label It, http://www.justlabelit.org/dark-act/

 

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