Renewable Farming

“Dark Act” not linked to budget bill… but still lurking in the background

Safe-food advocate groups are breathing a bit easier as Congress winds down debate on a huge appropriations bill — without inserting a rider which would, in effect, enact a law requiring any producer selling food carrying a “Non-GMO” label to qualify that claim under a rigorous new bureaucracy administered by the Food and Drug Administration.

The proposed law, passed by the House earlier this year, is H.R. 1599.

It would also bar any U.S. state or local jurisdiction from requiring marketers to label foods containing genetically engineered ingredients, which is a common law in many nations such as Germany and other EU nations.

H. R. 1599 also has a provision which undermines its own supposed purposes. It would allow meat, milk and eggs or other livestock products to carry a “non-GMO” label even though they’ve been raised on transgenic corn, soybeans and other GMO feedstuffs.  The significance of this: such non-GMO-labeled meat, milk and eggs would almost certainly contain residues of glyphosate, glufosinate and 2,4D herbicides used on GMO crops. 

This provision is causing substantial debate among worldwide opponents of H.R. 1599. The text says:

Treatment of livestock

In the case of a covered product derived from livestock that is marketed in the United States for human consumption, the covered product shall not be considered to be genetically engineered solely because the livestock consumed feed produced from containing, or consisting of a genetically engineered plant.

You can read the entire bill by downloading a PDF of it, at this link.

The overall impacts of H.R. 1599 would be:

1. Imposing a police-type regulatory burden on any food marketer using a “Non-GMO” label on food products. This label is the fastest-growing “brand” in the marketplace. Foods labeled non-GMO now total a greater retail volume than “organic” products using the USDA Organic label. Most of the non-GMO labels are certified by non-government organizations such as the Non-GMO Project.

2. Sidestepping the widespread consumer demand for requiring foods containing GMO content to be labeled as such, as they are in dozens of countries overseas.

3. Sabotaging its own credibility by allowing GMO feedstuffs and related toxins to wear the non-GMO label on livestock products.

The bottom line is that the federal program would have little credibility with respect to livestock products, and would relieve marketers of GMO-linked products of any requirement to inform consumers that their food contains GMO ingredients.

What puzzles us is how major farm organizations and farm-state legislatures can be so convinced by corporate influences that they’re simply not listening to worldwide scientific data on GMO-related health implications —  and consumer demand.

The Dark Act, an acronym for “Denying Americans the Right to Know” will definitely resurface in 2016.

Eventually, a consumer rebellion is probably the only means of resolving the “food revolution” in America.

More on this issue is available at Sustainable Pulse at this link.

And further background from the Center for Food Safety at this link.

 Here’s a PDF at this link which indicates what ag appropriations did get into the spending bill, which should be enacted Friday, Dec. 18.