U.S. farmers have lashed out at a new bill in Congress proposing to end mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods, which they say could deceive the consumer about the potentially harmful nature of the products.
The law would be enormously profitable for biotech giant Monsanto.
In a statement released by the Center for Food Safety, national agricultural groups like Ecological Farming Association, Family Farm Defenders, and Farm Aid criticize the H.R. 1599 Act, which they refer to as the “Denying Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act.”
“Proponents of H.R. 1599, which would preempt states and local authorities from labeling or regulation GE foods, have attempted to argue that all farmers support the legislation and oppose mandatory labeling on genetically engineered (GE) foods. This is not the case,” the statement says.
A recent survey found that 93 percent of U.S. citizens favor mandatory labels on genetically modified foods.
“That’s why it’s so disturbing that instead of making it easier for consumers to understand what’s in the food they are buying,” wrote celebrity chef Tom Colicchio in the New York Daily News, “there are some in Congress who are actively trying to deny us the basic right to know what we are putting in our bodies.”
Should it be passed, the DARK Act would have wide-ranging consequences for the food industry, including expanding the definition of “natural” to include some genetically modified ingredients, and removing local control over where genetically modified products are grown.
Multinational “agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation” Monsanto is one company set to benefit from the law.
Critics also oppose the company’s “Roundup Ready” seeds, which have been engineered to resist a herbicide dubbed a “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organization, and have led to the decline of the Monarch butterfly.
The act passed through House Agriculture Committee last week, and could be debated by the full House of Representatives next week.
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