Organic Consumers Association

We Can Still STOP the DARK Act!

UPDATE: S. 764 was passed by the House on July 14. Please call President Obama at 202-456-1111 and tell him to veto the DARK Act! Then sign these petitions:

President Obama: Pledge to Veto the DARK Act!

Veto the DARK Act (S.764)

Monsanto scored a major victory on July 7, when the Senate passed S.764, the bill known as the DARK Act (because it would Deny Americans the Right to Know about GMOs).

But, this fight is far from over. The bill still must be passed by the House before it can go to the President.

TAKE ACTION: Call your U.S. Representative at 888-754-9091 to tell him or her to vote against the DARK Act (S.764). Then, fill in the form on this page to send them an email.

Here are some talking points you can use when you call:

S.764 would kill Vermont’s law that labels GMO foods as ‘produced with genetic engineering.’ Vermont's law is working. GMOs are being labeled. Food prices are staying the same. Nothing has changed at the grocery stores in Vermont and the labels are being used nationwide. S.764 would hide information about GMOs behind QR codes. This discriminates against people without smart phones, especially elderly, rural, and low-income people, as well as people of color. S.764’s definition of “bioengineered” exempts nearly all GMOs from labeling. Even House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway says the “bill is riddled with ambiguity and affords the Secretary a concerning level of discretion.”

We can stop the DARK Act this time.

In 2015, the House passed H.R.1599, an earlier version of the DARK Act. But things are different now. This is why we think we have a better chance of stopping S.764:

Democrats can’t be fooled twice. Among the 45 Democrats who voted for the DARK Act in 2015, there were a number who did so because they believed Monsanto’s lies about the confusing patchwork of state laws that would cause food prices to increase. Within the Congressional Black Caucus, 20 of 43 voted for the bill.

Now that Vermont’s law has taken effect, we have proof that GMO labels have no impact on food prices. Most of the major U.S. food companies are labeling their GMO foods as “produced with genetic engineering” and not one has said that this imposes a significant cost.

The patchwork of state laws problem doesn’t exist, as no other state law has gone into effect, let alone one that would require something different from Vermont’s “produced with genetic engineering” language.

It is very unlikely that any Democrat concerned about low-income people’s access to food could vote for S.764, which takes the very most expensive and discriminatory option for food labels: QR code SmartLabels that can’t be scanned without a smart phone, internet access and downloaded software.

Only 16 percent of Americans have ever scanned a QR code for any reason.

Many people don’t have smart phones, including three quarters of people over the age of 65, half of people living in rural areas, and half of those making less than $30,000 a year. Among those who do have smart phones, 42 percent of African Americans and 36 percent of Latinos have had their smart phone service lapse when they couldn’t pay the bills.

People of limited means care as much about what they eat as the wealthy. S.764 allows essential information about our food to be hidden behind what amounts to a pay-wall.

Samantha McDaniel explains what this would mean for her Healthy Babies Project:

“I work with teen moms and a lot of them are from very under-privileged neighborhoods with low incomes. When I take them shopping to teach them how to buy healthy, non-GMO food it is already challenging enough. They would never use a Smart phone to scan a QR code or go to a website like bill S. 764 would require them to do because most can't afford a Smart phone. It's also dangerous to be looking at a phone when you have a baby in the cart or a toddler running off in a public place with possible predators nearby. They would not use their cell phone minutes because they have Pay As You Go phones and can't afford to use up their minutes on calling food companies.”

The Republicans are split. While most Republicans have supported the DARK Act, Republican legislators who consistently adhere to free market, small government, and states’ rights principles are opposing federal action on GMO labels. And their ranks are growing.

A conservative think-tank, the Heritage Foundation, has come out against S.764. Its lobbying arm warned, “Heritage Action opposes S. 764 and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.”

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway said that he would support the bill, but damned it with faint praise. In a statement he wrote:

After spending the past week and a half studying the legislation and meeting with agricultural producers, along with a variety of other stakeholders, I have come to the conclusion that the Senate bill is riddled with ambiguity and affords the Secretary [of Agriculture] a concerning level of discretion.

We couldn’t say it any better ourselves! Please let your Representative know how problematic this bill is.

TAKE ACTION: Call your U.S. Representative at 888-754-9091 to tell him or her to vote against the DARK Act (S.764).