NFFC and Affiliate Organizations Oppose the DARK Act

NFFC and 327 groups from around the nation wrote a letter to both the House and the Senate opposing the Deny Americans the Right-to-Know (DARK) Act.  This legislation would deny states the right to require labeling of genetically modified food, would prevent the FDA from mandating GMO labeling in the future and would allow foods containing genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled “natural.”  The Senate letter is listed below and you can find the House letter here.

 

May 13, 2015

Dear Senator,

On behalf of the 328 undersigned farm, food, health, public interest and environmental organizations and businesses, we respectfully request that you do not support HR 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act sponsored by Representative Pompeo (R-KS), if a Senate version of this bill is introduced. By making voluntary labeling for genetically engineered (GMO) foods the national standard, this bill would enshrine in federal law a failed policy that has kept consumers in the dark about what they are eating for two decades. The bill would also allow GMOs to be misleadingly labeled as “natural.” But most importantly, this bill would strip away consumers’ right to know by preempting state efforts to require labeling of GMO foods.

HR 1599 rests on the false tenet that there is a broad scientific consensus that GMO foods are safe.i The undersigned organizations contend that this is not the case since the approval process relies on studies conducted by the companies seeking to sell new GMO crops, rather than on any independent review. Simply making the current voluntary review system mandatory, as HR 1599 would, does nothing to address the inadequacy of the pre-market review system.

The bill relies on a system of voluntary labeling, despite the fact that for over a decade the FDA has allowed companies to voluntarily label GMO foods and none have chosen to do so.

Americans want mandatory labeling of GMO foods. A 2013 New York Times poll found that 93 percent of respondents were in favor of a mandatory label for genetically engineered food.ii Since the Food and Drug Administration has failed to respond to the more than a million Americans who have asked the agency to label GMOs, the momentum on this issue has shifted to the states. Since 2013, over 25 states have introduced legislation to label GMO foods, and these bills have passed in Connecticut, Maine and Vermont.iii

Mandatory labeling of GMOs is not a novel idea. Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia and Saudi Arabia are among at least 60 countries that require some labeling on GMO foods.iv Nor is mandatory labeling an expensive proposition for the United States. A study commissioned by Consumers Union reviewed research on mandatory GMO labeling and estimated that the median cost of labeling per person per year is $2.30,v less than a penny a day.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is responsible for this bill as well as other efforts to remove transparency from food labels. This trade organization represents the world’s biggest food and beverage companies as well as agribusinesses like Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences and Syngenta.vi In 2013 alone, the GMA spent $14.3 million lobbying against country-of-origin labeling, GMO labeling, any regulation of food marketing to children and other regulations affecting the food and beverage industry.vii The GMA and its member companies have poured over $80 million into political action committees to help block GMO labeling ballot initiatives in California, Washington, Oregon and Colorado over the past three years.viii The passage of HR 1599 would ensure that the GMA and its member companies continue to profit by denying consumers basic information about how the food they feed their families is produced.

This bill unfairly jeopardizes the existing rights of states and would undermine the efforts of the thousands of people working to create basic transparency in food labels in their states. We urge you to deny support for HR 1599, a bill that would quash the democratic process and keep constituents in the dark about how their food was produced.

Instead, we urge you to support SB 511, introduced by Senator Boxer (D-CA), which would balance the needs of companies for a single labeling standard with the overwhelming demand by consumers for the mandatory labeling of GMOs in food.

If you have any questions or need more information on this issue, please contact Patty Lovera at Food & Water Watch at (202) 683-2465.

Sincerely,

National:

Alliance for Natural Health USA
American Anti-Vivisection Society
Arizay
CATA (The Farmworker Support Committee) Center for Food Safety
Citizens for GMO Labeling
Consumer Federation of America
Earth Open Source
Environmental Working Group Experimental Farm Network
Fair World Project
Family Farm Defenders
Farm Aid
Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance
Farm Sanctuary
Food & Water Watch
Food Chain Workers Alliance
Food Democracy Now!
Friends of the Earth U.S.
GMO Free USA
Green America
Moms Across America
MoveOn.org Civic Action
National Family Farm Coalition
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Natural Grocers
Nature’s Path Foods Inc.
Non-GMO Project
Northeast Organic Farming Association – Interstate Council
Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance Mangrove Action Project
Organic Consumers Association
Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association Pesticide Action Network North America Presence Marketing
Rainforest Relief
Rural Advancement Foundation International Slow Food USA
Socially Responsible Agricultural Project Western Organization of Resource Councils Women, Food and Agriculture Network

Arizona:

AZ Extreme Clean, LLC GMO Free Arizona

California:

Awake at Work
Be The Change
Bodywise Pilates Studio
CA Proposition 37
Daily Digital Imaging
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps Earth Source Organics Ecobutterfly Organics Ecological Farming Association Farms Not Arms
Four Seasons Ag Consulting Frey Vineyards, Ltd.
Friends of Atascadero Wetlands Good Earth
Label GMOs Sonoma County
Labelgmos.org- California’s Grassroots Lundberg Family Farms
Moms Across America of the CA State Grange MOMS Advocating Sustainability
Nepalese Paper
New Earth Resources
Other Worlds
Peaceroots Alliance
Quest
Riverdance Farms
Sacramento Community Grange
Slow Food California
Slow Food Santa Cruz
Stephanie Webb Consulting
The Healing Spiral
True Nourishment
Windheim EMF Solutions

Colorado:

Be The Change – USA
Boulder Brands
Colorado Springs Public Market Earth and Sky Architecture Earthly Ideas LLLC
Eco-Justice Ministries Eco-Officiency
Ela Family Farms MM Local
Mo’ Betta Green MarketPlace MyTherapyCompany, LLC Right to Know Colorado
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union The Kitchen Cafe, LLC
The North Fork LLC
Thistle Whistle Farm
Valley Organic Growers Association (VOGA) Western Colorado Congress
Zeal – food for enthusiasts

Connecticut:

Activate CT ConnFACT GMO Free CT

Florida:

Farmworker Association of Florida Farmworker Association of Florida Farmworker Self-Help
GMO FREE FLORIDA Pink Horizons Skin Care

Illinois:

Brackett Farm
Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition Illinois Right to Know GMO Illinois Stewardship Alliance
KYF Chicago
PrairiErth Farm
Seven Sisters Farm

Iowa:

Bloom and Bark Farm, LLC
DesMoines County Farmers and Neighbors for Optimal Health
Dubuque Food Coop
Family Farm & Crop Advisory Business FarmTable Delivery
Green Dubuque
H. H. Beck Century Farm
Institute for Responsible Technology
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Iowa Farmers Union
Iowa Organic Association
Iowa right to know
New Family Farm
New Pioneer Food Co-op
Pin Oak Place
Steamy Wonder Spa Company
The Organic & Non-GMO Report
Tim Blair MD, PLLC
Ulgan’s Fields, LLLP

Kentucky:

Rainbow Blossom Natural Food Markets Slow Food Bluegrass

Maine:

Food for Maine’s Future Local Food Rules
One Fish Foundation

Maryland:

Bear Haven Farm
CEM Design
Delish Dish GMOfreeMARYLAND
Zosimos Botanicals LLC

New Hampshire:

AIMA of Nashua, PLLC Applied Solar Technologies Breakwind Farm
Chimney Crickett
Gap Mountain Goats HomeFree, LLC
Hungry Bear Farm
Las Olas Taqueria Monadnock Food Co-op New Earth Organic Farm NH Live GMO Free or Die NH Right To Know GMO Nourishing Wellness stonegate farm and flowers Templeton Family Organics The Counseling Studio
The Wellness Corner
Wise Way Wellness Center

New Jersey:

350NJ
A Healthier You
Advocates for Justice
Animal Rights Activists of New Jersey Barbara Wilson Registered Dietitian LLC Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission Burlington County Young Democrats
Bus For Progress
Center for Environmental Transformation Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War Citizens For A Clean Pompton Lakes
Coastal Monmouth Democratic Club Community Green
Deans Natural Food Markets
DO Health & Wellness
Earthsource
Eat Well, Live Well
Espressit Coffee Shop
Foodshed Alliance
Franciscan Response to Fracking
Genesis Farm
GMO Free NJ
Green Party of Monmouth County
Harmony Starts
Jane’s Kitchen
Mountain Lakes Organic Co-op
NJ PDA

Massachusetts:

Berkshire Organics
Chicopee Center Chiropractic
MA Right to Know GMOs
Natural Awakenings Boston
New Life Design
Northeast Organic Farming Association of Mass., Inc.
Occupy Hingham
Real Pickles
The Green Dad

Michigan:

Michigan Land Trustees
GCC Organics NoGMO4Michigan
Nourishing Ways of West MI West Michigan Paleo/Primal Tribe

Minnesota:

CONTEMPL8 T-SHIRTS LLC
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Purple Prairie
Right to Know Minnesota

Mississippi:

Computer Co-op
Fair Trade Green
Rainbow Natural Grocery Cooperative

Montana:

Hermans Eco Inc.
Organic Seed Alliance Sustainable Living Systems

Nebraska:

Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society

Nevada:

GMO Free Nevada
GMO Free Nevada, Las Vegas Chapter Grassroots Action Network Housekeeping Secrets
Label GMO Nevada

New Jersey:

NJ State Industrial Union Council
Northern NJ Chaper of National Organization for Women
Northjersey Pipeline Walkers
Nourishing Ways Nutrition and Learning Center, LLC.
Nutrition Prescription LLC
On The Go Cafe’ LLC
Our yards farm
Planting Seeds of HOPE
Ramsey Farmers Market
Raritan Headwaters Association
SKC Group LLC
Skylands Group, NJ Sierra Club
Slow Food Northern NJ
South Jersey Fair Trade Alliance
South Jersey Organic Garden Club
St. Mary’s Advocates for Justice
St. Mary’s Franciscan Parish, Pompton Lakes Stonybrook Meadows
Sunshine Interiorscapes
T and F drugs
The Great Full Garden
Transition Newton & Northwest NJ Weehawken Food Co-op
Whole Earth Center
Wilk Benefits Consulting, LLC

New Mexico:

Camino de Paz School & Farm GMO-Free New Mexico
La Montanita Coop
Mixing Bowl Kitchen ProgressNow New Mexico

New York:

Brooklyn Bridge CSA
Church Women United in New York State GMO Free NY
Green Education and Legal Fund
Just Food
Label It WNY
Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy
Moosewood, Inc.
Mothering Mother
New York Design Studio
Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York
NYPIRG (New York Public Interest Research Group)
Re-Nature Consulting
St. Mary’s Urban Farm
Swing Hair Salon
Understory Farm
Western New York Peace Center
Whole Green And Healthy Integrative Wellness

North Carolina:

Abundance NC
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association GMO-Free Rockingham County, NC Green Bean Counters, LLC
The Change Creation, Inc.
Toxic Free NC

North Dakota:

Dakota Resource Council

Ohio:

All Things Food
City Rising Farm
Green Environmental Coalition
Label the Truth Ohio
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association Ohio Environmental Council
Ohio Farmers Union
Progress Ohio
Snowville Creamery
Women Speak Out for Peace and Justice

Oregon:

Alliance for Democracy – Oregon Beyond Toxics
Casa Verde CSA
Center for Biological Diversity Friends of Family Farmers Garuda Intl. LLC
Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides Oregonians for Safe Farms and Families
Our Family Farms Coalition
Phillips Family Farm
Roots Realty Sympatico Clothing The Oregon Bus Project

Pennsylvania:

Berks Gas Truth Freshlife
GMO Free PA
Safe Water Society Small Valley Milling

South Dakota:

Dakota Rural Action

Tennessee:

Tennessee Chapter Sierra Club

Texas:

Green Gate Farms
HOPE Farmers Market
Laughing Frog Farm
League of Independent Voters of Texas Sustainable Food Center
Sustainable Sources LLC

Vermont:

Cedar Circle Farm and Education Center Family Cow Farmstand
Filthy Farmgirl Soap Co.
Flywheel Farm LLC
Haven Hill Jerseys
Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT)
Prince Properties
Rural Vermont
The Farm of Milk and Honey
Vermont Public Interest Research Group Vermont Right to Know GMOs

Virginia:

ASAP Sitters

Washington:

All Pets Go To Heaven Big Dipper Wax Works Central Co-op GMO-Free San Juans Heavenly Spa
Hugo’s Restaurant
Natural Health Clinic of Olympia Tilth Producers of Washington

Wisconsin:

Hammer enterprise People’s Food Co-Op

 

i “No scientific consensus on GMO safety.” Environmental Sciences Europe. January 24, 2015. http://www.enveurope.com/content/27/1/4/abstract.
ii Kopicki, Allison. “Strong Support for Labeling Modified Foods.” New York Times. July 27, 2013.

iii Senauer, Benjamin. University of Minnesota, Food Policy Research Center. “Considering the Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered (GE) Foods in the U.S.” Issue Brief. August 2013 at 1; Durkin, Alanna. “Maine advances genetically modified food labels.” Businessweek. June 12, 2013; National Cotton Council. “Connecticut approves labeling GE foods.” June 10, 2013; Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin. “Gov. Peter Shumlin Signs First-in-the-Nation Genetically Engineered Foods Labeling Law.” [Press Release] May 8, 2014. http://governor.vermont.gov/newsroom-gmo-bill-signing-release.

iv U.S. Trade Representative. “2011 Report on Technical Barriers to Trade.” 2011 at 49; Center for Food Safety. “Genetically Engineered Food Labeling Laws.” Accessed September 5, 2013. http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/ge-map/.

v Dyke, Andrew and Robert Whelan. “GE Foods Labeling Cost Study Findings.” ECONorthwest Report prepared for Consumers Union. September 12, 2014.
vi GMA. Member Directory. July 2013

vii Food & Water Watch analysis of GMA Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, Lobbying Reports from 2013. Available at Center for Responsive Politics. www.opensecrets.org. Includes GMA’s own filings and hired lobbying firm filings.

viii Food & Water Watch analysis of campaign data from Behrsin, Pamela. “Data Release: Failed CA Prop. 37 (GMO Labeling) – Funding Profile.” Maplight.org. March 9, 2013; Washington State Public Disclosure Commission. Campaign Finance Database. Accessed January 2014; Colorado Secretary of State TRACER Database. No on 105 Political Action Committee Contributions. Accessed January 2015; Oregon Secretary of State. Campaign Finance- No on 92 Political Action Committee Contributions. Accessed January 2015.