Big Food Attempts to Block GMO Labeling by Year’s End

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According to a report by the Associated Press, members of the food industry opposed to the mandatory labeling of GMOs are lobbying heavily for Congress to include a voluntary labeling provision in a massive year-end spending bill that Republicans and Democrats hope to finish this week. This provision is based on the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know Act (DARK Act) by critics, which was passed by the House of Representatives on July 23, 2015, but not yet debated by the Senate.

This marks another heavy push by Big Food to preempt mandatory GMO labeling laws on the state level, such as Vermont’s Genetically Engineered Food Labeling Act (Act 120) which passed in May of 2014 and will go into effect July 2016. Given this impending deadline, food companies and farm groups are scrambling to avoid what they believe will be a “costly and confusing” patchwork of state labeling laws. Maine and Connecticut also passed mandatory labeling laws which only go into effect if neighboring states follow suit. Groups that support mandatory labeling believe consumers have the right to be informed and denounce the efforts of lobbyists and members of Congress to interfere with said rights and to preempt state laws.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, the top Democrat on the Senate Agricultural Committee believes the labeling question to be too controversial for the spending bill which needs to be passed before they leave for the holidays. However, she and Senator John Hoeven R-N.D. are working to reach a possible compromise between the two opposing groups.