Renewable Farming

The Dark Act may develop a silver lining for alert farmers

As expected, the GMO “labeling” bill was passed overwhelmingly by both houses of Congress. President Obama’s staff has virtually assured the media of the president’s signature. Here’s a link to an NPR summary of the law.

The “Dark Act,” as opponents label it, should make it very clear that the federal government has no sustained interest in serious analysis of the long-term health impacts from transgenic foods and the herbicides/pesticides linked with them. Main impact of the new bill is to bar states from enacting clear, simple labeling laws identifying foods containing GMO ingredients. And it nullifies state laws on the books, such as Vermont’s GMO labeling requirement.

Yes, there’s opportunity in here somewhere. Awareness is rising among consumers that there’s probably a reason some 60 other nations label, restrict or ban GMO crops and food ingredients. And the long-term public health evidence is mounting that the combination of genetic engineering and herbicide residues has ominous health threats over the long term. All but a few of the “safety” studies on GMOs and related chemicals such as glyphosate were for acute toxicity over short periods, like 90 days. 

Thus the demand for “Non-GMO Certified” foods could begin accelerating. This could enhance the price premiums to farmers for growing non-GMO crops. Bunge is launching a major effort to contract with farmers for large supplies of non-GMO corn. Other retail firms like Dannon are switching to non-GMO. 

We’ve heard comments from mothers who’ve followed this debate — comments like, “We’ll have to assume that any food product made from corn or soybeans or sugar will contain GMOs and related herbicide residues — unless the package states it’s non-GMO.”

Cooperative efforts such as the non-GMO project are encouraging much more widespread consumer awareness that they’re on their own:  Don’t count on FDA or USDA’s protection.

The Dark Act was made law with the same subterfuge politics as an earlier law signed by President Obama in May 2013 and immediately branded the “Monsanto Protection Act.”  It immunizes biotech firms against liability for any health damages from transgenic crops. That law was embedded 78 pages deep in a continuing resolution funding bill, H.R. 933. Here’s a link to a report on that provision.

And here’s another summary, this one from CBS News.

One of the most revealing critiques of the GMO lobby which pushed through the Dark Act emerged July 11 on the Investing website, authored by Kurt Cobb. He calls the GMO lobbyists and public relations strategists “The Dumbest Guys in the Room.” His prediction: the muddled law will lead to years of haggling and spiraling condemnations of the entire GMO industry. It’s a fascinating read… see Kurt’s editorial at this link.