The DARK Act is Back and Only You Can Stop It

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I have some bad news for those of you who want GMOs to be labelled: the Senate is about to vote on yet another version of the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, which would wipe out any state mandatory labeling laws (like the Vermont law) and keep us in the dark about the food we’re buying.

Why the DARK Act Just Won’t Die

I hate to say this, but I told you the DARK act will return! When everyone was excited about the last DARK Act being voted down in March earlier this year, I warned that the bill will simply be revived with a few alterations. Sadly, I was right.

Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling law is due to go into effect in just a few days. Yet Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) have written up a new DARK Act that would make it illegal for states like Vermont to force GMO labels on their own terms.

Instead they suggest a “compromise” that would keep food companies happy while revealing some information to consumers about the GMO content of the food they buy.

What does the new DARK act entail?

This “compromise” isn’t even a compromise at all. It would wipe out Vermont’s law (and any other labeling laws currently pending in other states) and would not even go into effect for another 2 years.

Not all GMOs would be covered

The bill would only cover some types of GMOs and only if the product contains above a certain amount, which is yet another attempt at deceiving consumers, who are simply interested in knowing if there are any GMOs in the food at all.

No penalties for companies that do not comply

The bill doesn’t contain any penalties for companies that do not comply and fail to properly label GMOs in their food. There will be no agency, no committee, nobody to enforce the proper labeling of products. This makes this bill, essentially, a voluntary GMO labeling “suggestion.”

The labels will not be clear or easy to read

The bill suggests that instead of simply saying in plain English whether or not a product contains GMOs, companies start labeling GMOs in a horribly inconvenient and discriminatory fashion: through either QR codes, dedicated 1-800 phone lines, or website links.

There will be no standard, so each company can decide which of the 3 methods to use, meaning consumers will be forced to spend hours at the grocery store scanning products, calling helplines and trying to navigate corporate websites on their mobile devices.

And what about people without mobile devices?

This law will completely ignore those who may not have a smartphone, or a data plan, or even a cell phone. Poorer populations are already suffering from poor health and nutrition, so this will only exacerbate the problem by leaving them in the dark about what they are putting in their bodies.

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As you can probably imagine, nearly 90% of Americans want GMOs to be clearly labeled. Even people who don’t mind eating GMOs think it would be only fair that they get labeled.

Follow the money

Why are corporations pouring money into our senators’ campaign funds to make them enact laws that go against 90% of our population’s wishes?

Debbie Stabenow raised $345,676, and Pat Roberts raised $310,414 directly from the agricultural industry (and even more through super PACs). For both of them, the agricultural/crop industries are in their top 5 contributors. I think their motivations are clear.

Overall, the food industry (including big players like Monsanto, Land O’Lakes, Morton Salt, Hillshire Farms, and others) has spent over $105,647,559 on contributions and campaigns aimed at stopping the passage of mandatory labeling bills in 2014.

What the industry is claiming

Clearly, the agricultural industry has a vested interest in preventing any mandatory GMO labeling laws from taking effect. But why are they so against it? What are they afraid of?

Their official version is this: “putting a label on products will increase production costs”.

However, that has been debunked multiple times.

First of all, label requirements change periodically, so this wouldn’t be the first time that companies have been required to add/change something on their labels.

As studies show, the costs associated with adding a few words on the label are so insignificant, they won’t even affect the price of the product.

You would also be a fool not to notice that companies change their packaging voluntarily all the time. Whether it’s a complete redesign or just an addition of a few new marketing slogans – companies are constantly refreshing their packaging, and that rarely affects the price.

kraft cheese before after package update

Simply adding 1 line of text cannot be that detrimental to their bottom line.

And lastly, if they are OK with adding a QR code, a website link, or a 1-800 number onto their packaging, why wouldn’t they just cut to the chase and write “contains GMOs”?! Either way, they’d have to update the package!

The “cost” argument is clearly just an excuse. The real reason they don’t want their consumers to have an easy way of knowing that the products contain GMOs is because they are afraid.

What they are really afraid of

They are afraid that you will stop buying their shit. There, I said it.

They are afraid that you will see “contains GMOs” written on the package, and decide to buy the product next to it, which does not contain them.

Our parents were the generation of mass-produced industrialized foods. They stuck to their favorite 4 brands and preferred easy and pre-made foods that took a few minutes to turn into dinner. They preferred cheap over healthy.

Our generation is different. We watched our parents descend into the world of chronic illnesses and become permanent prescription pill guzzlers, so we are wary of their eating habits.

We sway away from the giant brands they loved, and instead prefer local, natural, raw, and pure foods. We’d rather spend an extra 40 minutes in the kitchen cooking everything from scratch than eat something that came in a brightly-colored box.

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We’re wary of pesticides and carcinogens, so GMOs are naturally unwelcome in our kitchens. We don’t want to eat something that was bred to withstand carcinogenic pesticides in unprecedented quantities.

The market for non-GMO products is growing significantly faster than the market for GMO products. And it is predicted that it will nearly double by 2019! The non-GMO industry is growing so quickly, that in just a few years it should dominate the entire food industry and become the “norm”.

The big corporations are well aware of these trends. Some of them react by producing their own non-GMO products or acquiring non-GMO brands. They are remaining relevant by providing consumers with what they want.

Others are not willing to be this flexible, so their solution is to keep us from knowing what we are buying and “force” us to buy their GMO products “on accident”. It’s a very desperate attempt at remaining relevant in an environment where your product is no longer in-demand. It is not a sustainable answer to their diminishing profits.

In a true free market, supply is directly influenced by demand. A producer only succeeds by producing what the public demands. If the producer fails to do so, the public finds another producer who doesn’t. It’s Economics 101.

But some of the big players in our food industry would rather spend their money on enacting laws that prevent the economy from functioning the way it should. They are trying to manipulate the market through these ridiculous laws and barriers, and they are using our Senate to do it.

For all the money they’ve spent on fighting the mandatory GMO labeling bill in Vermont, they could’ve create a huge non-GMO empire that could’ve provided them with happy consumers and endless profits for years to come.

But why do that when you can just throw money at a couple of senators and let them do the dirty work for you, am I right?

What Can Be Done?

The vote will happen on July 5th. There are just a few days left to make a difference. If you care about GMO labeling, or even if you just want to stick it to the lazy corporations that don’t respect their consumers or the free market, I urge you to contact your Senators and tell them to vote “no” on S.B. 2609.

By Phone

Please call your Senators using this toll-free number, designed to make it as easy as possible for you: 866-772-3843.

Here’s what you can say:

“I’m a constituent and I’m calling to express my opposition to the Roberts-Stabenow GMO labeling bill (S.B. 2609). This bill would kill the Vermont law that requires clear GMO disclosure directly on the package. The Roberts-Stabenow bill wouldn’t require words on the package, it wouldn’t label all GMOs, it would discriminate against the poor, and it would take at least 2 years to take effect. And, it’s essentially voluntary because there would be no enforcement for non-compliance. I urge you to vote “no” on this bill and any similar legislation until there is a bill for mandatory, clear, on-package labeling of GMOs“.

By Email

Click this link to email your senators. They really do listen if enough people email them!


Share this with your friends and loved ones. Let them know how important it is to make sure this bill doesn’t pass. Share this post with them, tweet it, instagram it… do whatever you need to do to raise awareness and get as many people as you can to contact their senators and tell them to vote no!

We can do better. We can get a mandatory nationwide labeling law that would require simple and clear GMO disclosure directly on the package. Let’s not settle for anything less.

Update 7/8/16:

Last night, on July 7, 2016, our Senate passed this bill despite thousands of calls, emails and pleas from constituents. Sixty-three senators voted “yay” on this bill, and stood up on the Senate floor arguing that this bill is a “uniform mandatory labeling solution” – which is not true.

The 63 Senators who sided with (and took hundreds of millions of dollars from) Monsanto and Big Food, stole your right to know, and whatever shred of belief you might still have had in the democratic process.

The Roberts-Stabenow bill will now go back to the U.S. House. If the House and Senate reach an agreement, Congress will vote on a bill to keep you in the dark. That bill will then land on President Obama’s desk.

Update 7/14/16:

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill by a 306-117 vote today. The bill now heads to President Obama’s desk.

As difficult as this battle has become, I will continue fighting it all the way to the President’s desk, and I hope you will too.

The one thing left to do:


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