On December 10th–or close to that date if the House legislature tweaks it–the House, controlled by the Republican Party, will take up HR4432, a bill sponsored by Republican Mike Pompeo from Kansas.
HR 4432, as Pompeo proposes it, will effectively prohibit local and state governments from requiring labeling of GMO foods.
HR4432 is also called the “DARK” act, or “Deny Americans the Right to Know.” First introduced in April of 2014, the legislation has re-emerged on the legislative agenda of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, and is scheduled for committee review this December 10th. This committee action comes very shortly after the results of the Oregon election, where this past November 2013, a proposal to label GMO foods was narrowly defeated by a margin of only 809 votes out of 1.5 million votes cast, despite $14 million in opposition funding.
Because the Oregon vote was so close, a recount has been scheduled in Oregon for December 12th.
To combat HR 4432 from passing, the non-profit Organic Consumers Association and other organizations in support of labeling GMO foods are organizing protests in front of the House Rayburn building for December 10th. Volunteers are needed and those who are interested in showing up to protest can sign up at http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50865/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=80143&track=FB&tag=FB.
The history of the movement to label GMO foods is interesting. As a candidate, in 2007 Obama promised to support labeling of GMO foods. He never fulfilled that promise, and in fact, in March of 2013, signed what some have nicknamed the “Monsanto Protection Act” — approving legislation written into the spending bill for 2013 that effectively limits legal action against the corporation should their GMO products have negative health impacts.
As made obvious by his signing of the 2013 legislation, campaign promises to label GMO foods have been ignored by Obama, and given recent actions by their front-runner candidate Hilary Clinton, it appears that the Democratic party may be taking a stance that is pro-GMO.
This past summer, Hilary Clinton, as keynote speaker at the Biotechnology Industry Organization annual meeting, gave a resoundingly positive GMO statement. Her message? Reinvent the marketing and tell everyone that the foods are “drought-resistant,” not “Frankensteinish.”
In recent years, initiatives to label GMO foods have gone to the ballot in California, Oregon, and Washington. All of the votes have been close despite millions spent to defeat the labeling measures. In Vermont, initiatives to label GMOs passed, with the legislature upholding the law. As a result the state of Vermont is being sued by a collective of corporations that are pro-GMO, Monsanto among them.
Meanwhile, sales of certified organic and certified non-GMO foods continue to dramatically increase, as consumers vote with their pocket-books.
With Obama’s failure to meet his campaign promise and with Clinton’s clear support of GMO foods, this could be a wonderful opportunity for the Republican Party to take a clear position in support of public interest and in opposition to the Democratic party, Unfortunately, House bill, HR 4432, suggests otherwise.