The House Agriculture Committee in Congress passed HR 1599, the Monsanto-backed Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, out of committee. It is headed for a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives as early as next week. We call this legislation “the DARK (Denying Americans the Right to Know) Act,” as its primary purpose is to prevent states from implementing strong, mandatory labeling laws for foods derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Maine’s landmark legislation, An Act To Protect Maine Food Consumers’ Right To Know about Genetically Engineered Food, could be eliminated if HR 1599 were to pass. More than 90% of Maine people want GMO foods to be labeled as such. The Maine Legislature advocated unanimously for strong, mandatory labeling in 2013, and Governor LePage signed the bill into law in 2014. MOFGA has worked so hard for so long and we must all pull together to defeat the insidious, industry-backed DARK Act.

HR 1599 seeks to:

  • prevent states from adopting their own GMO labeling laws;
  • render Maine’s mandatory labeling law unenforceable despite overwhelming support among state residents and the Legislature;
  • prevent states or counties from regulating genetically engineered crops, eliminating the local control option on this very significant issue;
  • prevent the Food and Drug Administration from requiring companies to label foods derived from GMOs; and
  • continue a policy of allowing “voluntary” labeling of GMO foods even though this policy has failed to provide the information and protection that Maine consumers demand.

There are many reasons why people want to know whether their food is produced from GMOs. Some may have food allergies, others may have religious or environmental concerns, others may wish not to support consolidation and control of the world’s seed supply, and still others may worry about potential health threats of GMOs as reported in the recently released, peer-reviewed study on the predicted buildup of formaldehyde (a known class 1 carcinogen) in genetically engineered soy.

Representative Chellie Pingree has been a strong supporter of MOFGA’s efforts to promote mandatory labeling in Maine and she opposes HR 1599.