D.A.R.K. ACT PASSAGE: DECEPTION CODIFIED
On July 23, the House of Representatives voted 275 to 150 to pre-empt all state laws governing genetically engineered ingredients in foods. The true purpose of that bill written by Mike Pompeo, Republican from Kansas, is to conceal the presence of genetically engineered ingredients in foods by prohibiting the requirement that foods containing GMOs disclose that fact on their labels. In other words, Pompeo’s bill codifies deception.
The bill is entitled (in Orwellian doublespeak), the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, thus deeming concealment of the presence of a bioengineered ingredient “accurate” labeling. Opponents of the bill have referred to it as the DARK Act (Denying Americans the Right to Know Act); indeed, in a failed amendment Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado tried to have the official name of the bill changed to that title.
If the bill passes the U.S. Senate and President Obama signs it into law (which, no doubt, he will), it will pre-empt and render unenforceable every state and local law concerning GMOs, including Vermont’s law that requires GMO labeling; the laws of several counties that protect organic farms from cross-contamination by GMO farms; and state laws that prohibit use of the term “Natural” on products containing GMOs.
By disguising the fact that a food contains a GMO, the bill makes consumer deception legal. In this way it protects the economic interests of big agricultural concerns that favor GMOs. Indeed, some like to call this bill the Monsanto Protection Act.
Some 90 percent of American consumers have reported in surveys that they want to know whether GMOs are in the foods they purchase. The fact of GMO ingredients is thus material to most consumers’ food purchases. A very large and growing percentage of consumers buy organic products, understanding those products to be GMO free. If this bill becomes law, no one who purchases a food, whether fruit, vegetable, or meat, will know for sure whether it is free of genetically engineered ingredients. Indeed, even foods labeled “Natural” will be able to contain unidentified genetically engineered ingredients. Moreover, this bill excludes from the definition of “genetically engineered” all foods having RNA modifications and all foods containing certain amounts of GMO content.
Having passed the House, the bill now moves to the Senate where another battle against deception is underway.
The Pompeo bill is not only one that codifies deception, it distorts the free market. It is an anti-competitive measure designed to protect GMO ag firms from market challenges arising from organic products. Rather than admit the presence of GMOs in their foods and defend those ingredients, GMO ag firms have chosen to hide the presence of GMOs and deceive consumers who find GMOs in foods to be a fact material to a purchasing decision. That non-disclosure approach will have the protection of law under this bill. All manner of ingredients, even ones that are largely believed “safe,” are routinely identified on nutrition facts panels, but when it comes to genetically modified ingredients, Monsanto and big agriculture wish to receive a special exemption. In this way, a majority of the members of the House of Representatives have chosen GMO ag firms as market winners, overriding the free choice of American consumers.
By making it difficult for consumers to know just which products are GMO-containing, proponents of the DARK Act seek to profit off of consumer ignorance and confusion. If offered a choice between an organic pea and a GMO-containing pea, most Americans prefer organic. In the ordinary course, we let the market decide who wins and loses. In a free market, it would be up to Monsanto and its friends to convince consumers that GMO-containing foods are better for them.
That argument, however, is not working for big agriculture, so instead they have chosen to rely on government regulation to deceive consumers. With mandated non-disclosure of GMOs, big agriculture can sell GMO-containing foods to the unwitting, capturing a larger market share than would otherwise be possible. By hiding the fact of GMOs, Monsanto and its friends will capture customers who mistakenly think a GMO-containing product one without GMOs. Where I come from this is called deception.
Senator John Hoeven, Republican from North Dakota, is expected to introduce a companion Senate bill to Pompeo’s DARK Act. The Senate Agriculture Committee may hold hearings on it after the August recess. A vote may happen in September, unless Senators want to silence debate and pass the measure quickly as an amendment to a “must pass” appropriations bill.
If you are like me and prefer truthful to deceptive labeling, it would be wise to contact your United States Senators as soon as possible and demand that they oppose this bill. Efforts to that end did cause a larger than expected number of votes against the bill in the House. It is quite possible to defeat this bill in the Senate, but only if enough Americans voice opposition to their elected representatives.
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© 2015 Jonathan W. Emord - All Rights Reserved
Jonathan W. Emord is an attorney who practices constitutional and administrative law before the federal courts and agencies. Ron Paul calls Jonathan “a hero of the health freedom revolution” and says “all freedom-loving Americans are in [his] debt . . . for his courtroom [victories] on behalf of health freedom.” He has defeated the FDA in federal court a remarkable eight times, seven on First Amendment grounds, and is the author of the Amazon bestsellers The Rise of Tyranny, Global Censorship of Health Information, and Restore the Republic. He is the American Justice columnist for U.S.A. Today Magazine and joins Robert Scott Bell weekly for “Jonathan Emord’s Sacred Fire of Liberty,” an hour long radio program on government threats to individual liberty. For more info visit Emord.com, join the Emord FDA/FTC Law Group on Linkedin, and follow Jonathan on twitter (@jonathanwemord).
That argument, however, is not working for big agriculture, so instead they have chosen to rely on government regulation to deceive consumers. With mandated non-disclosure of GMOs, big agriculture can sell GMO-containing foods to the unwitting, capturing a larger market share than would otherwise be possible.