In this week’s news, it’s score one for “We, The People.” The much reviled D.A.R.K. Act is off the table as of late Wednesday night. Following an intense flurry of deadline lobbying, the CFSAF – Coalition for Safe Affordable Food – (or the Grocery Manufacturers Association and cronies), tried getting their H.R. 1599 bill attached to the omnibus bill hoping to get the block on GMO labeling passed before the year ended. Not that such a thing should be part of the government budget, but the effort was made to get the food industry’s pet act voted into law in any way possible during this congressional session.
Supporters of real food will also be happy to know that the omnibus does include a block on the sale of GMO salmon, even though the FDA has approved it, legislators want further research done on it’s safety for human consumption before they’ll allow the FDA’s initial ruling to go forward. However, there is also a repeal of country of origin labeling on meats in the spending package. Once Congress votes to approve the spending bill, U.S. shoppers will no longer know where the star of the dinner plate was raised, but the measure an effort to avoid $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports that the WHO recently authorized for Canada and Mexico.
While the anti-GMO crowd is cheering the failure of The DARK Act, this isn’t the end of it.
Naturally, the GMA is unhappy, calling it “unfortunate” that H.R. 1599 was pulled, and forecasting the event to cause widespread disaster (consumers + farmers + food companies = everyone). One might wonder why the last minute rush to sneak it through after the DARK Act has been stalled in the Senate since summer. State by state laws on GMO labeling that have passed start going into effect after New Years. Mandatory GMO labeling is required in Vermont beginning in July 2016, and that will instigate enforcement of similar laws already voted in by other states. The CFSAF will resume the battle after the holidays with fresh zeal. Grocery Manufacturers Association, CEO and president, Pamela Bailey expresses confidence that they will make progress in protecting their profit margins come January, stating she is sure that since the USDA is on common ground with food companies on the issue, Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack should be willing to bring the parties together to arrive at a compromise that will pass Congress a.s.a.p.
The DARK Act failure isn’t an anti-GMO victory – it’s a temporary thing. Having a source of real food that is free of genetically engineered stuff will continue to be found in growing your own, and buying from small local farms who refuse to grow GE crops, or use feed that includes it.