Judith Klinger
June 28, 2016

Just like your favorite zombie, the DARK Act is rising from the dead…again.

Here’s your primer:

  • Amendment S764 is also known as the DARK Act or Deny Americans the Right to Know, because of the restrictions it places on identifying GMO ingredients. In its former life, this amendment would not have required any GMO labeling.  But this week a deal was struck within the Senate Agricultural Committee to allow for QR codes, website links or phone numbers to provide information on the presence of GMO ingredients.
  • Proponents of the DARK Act say the QR codes etc. are sufficient to find out if the loaf of bread you want to buy has GMO ingredients.
  • Opponents of the DARK Act say, “Can’t we just have plain language or symbols right on the packaging?”

The current iteration of the amendment was structured by the Grocery Manufacturers Association.   Their reasoning is that GMO food is safe and adding GMO labeling will just confuse the consumer.

Has anyone considered the reality of the idea of consumers actually scanning a QR code while shopping, waiting for a web page to load on their smartphone and then finding the info they want?

Frankly, it is just plain insulting to think that the idea of a website or QR code is anything but a plan to keep consumers confused and in the dark.

But, it is probably a safe bet that most consumers have no idea what GMO actually means or the implications of GMO crops.

Genetically Modified anything never sounds like a good thing.  It’s what leads to Godzilla crashing down Main Street in search of a Big Mac.  And finding non-hysterical information on either side of the debate is like pathfinding in a tropical jungle. You might be on the right trail, but it’s hard to say what’s what in this era of highly-financed biased research.

As near as I can tell, the GMO crops themselves are not the problem; it’s the peripheral pesticide issues that are the real reason to approach a GMO cornfield with caution.

Weeds in the fields become pesticide resistant so you either need more of the same like Monsanto’s Roundup (glyphosate) or something deadlier like Dow Chemical’s  “Enlist Duo” that contains 2,4-D (seriously..who comes up with these sci-fi scary names?).  Although the EPA has cleared 2,4-D for use, there are serious concerns about drift contamination in nearby fields, and that it is a known carcinogen. This ramping up of pesticide use as the weeds become more resistant, is known as the ‘pesticide treadmill’, and you know how tricky it can be to get off a treadmill!Taylor Swift falls off a treadmill for Apple

It’s right here with the introduction of Dow’s 2,4-D that things get really smelly at the Congressional level.

Senator Deborah Stabenow (D-MI) is the Senate’s ranking committee member on the Senate Agricultural Committee, and she’s just changed her position on GMO labeling to say that QR codes are a totally acceptable way for consumers to be informed about GMO ingredients.

Data Courtesy of opensecrets.org
Data Courtesy of opensecrets.org

Let’s follow the money trail for a moment.  In 2012 Dow did not contribute to Stabenow’s campaign committee or Leadership PAC. In 2014, Dow was the number 6 contributor, and in 2016 had risen to the number 4 contributor. The same year Stabenow decided to back the DARK act.  Just a coincidence or did the money talk?

There are pros and cons to GMO crops and food; they are needed tools in the toolbox as we try to feed the planet, but what is totally not acceptable, is to Deny Americans the Right to Know when they want to know.






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