Recently the House Agriculture Committee approved a controversial bill that would ban states from enacting mandatory labeling laws as well as regulations on genetically engineered foods.
House Resolution 1599, known as the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act to supporters and the DARK act by critics, would overturn current state laws requiring labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods, as well as prevent future labeling laws from being passed on the state or local level.
Now that the Committee has approved the bill it moves towards a full vote in the House before moving on to the Senate where it will likely face opposition from Democrats. The bill currently has 106 cosponsors, 91 Republicans and 15 Democrats.
After the committee approved the measure Pamela Bailey, CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), released a statement claiming that the legislation will ensure that Americans have accurate, consistent information about their food rather than a 50 state patchwork of labeling laws that will only prove costly and confusing for consumers, farmers and food manufacturers.”
The GMA is calling on the House to approve the measure before the coming August recess.
Scott Faber, executive director of Just Label It, said the fight has just begun. “The real fight will be in the Senate. This is from over.”
Currently three states have passed GE labeling bills, Vermont, Maine, and Connecticut. Maine and Connecticut’s laws do not go into effect unless their surrounding neighbor states also pass similar legislation.
Supporters of labeling say that consumers have a right to know if their food is genetically engineered. Some critics also fear the increasing use of herbicides and pesticides resulting from the proliferation of genetic engineering. The crowds are split between blanket opposition to genetically engineered foods and those who are calling for more studies to trace the effect on human consumption. Others oppose the GMO industry for limiting research and questionable business practices.
Supporters of the bill say that the labels will cause food prices to rise and cause confusion about the safety of GE food. At the committee hearing, Gregory Jaffe, Biotechnology Project Director with the Center for Science in the Public Interest, stated that since there were no known nutritional or safety issues connected to GE food, there should be no need for labels.
What are your thoughts? Are GMOs safe? Should they be labeled? Should the government ban labeling?