Consumers, farmers, states’ rights and consumer rights activists traveled to Washington D.C. to attend a scheduled hearing and protest on a bill that would preempt states’ rights to pass laws requiring the mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).”
H.R. 4432, dubbed by pro-labeling groups as the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, was introduced in April by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.). It was written with help from the biotech and processed food industries to protect corporate profits.
“Every citizen in this country, regardless of political affiliation, should be extremely concerned when Congress allows corporations to write laws, and those laws tromp on the rights of consumers and the constitutional rights of state and local governments to pass their own laws to protect their citizens and communities,” said Ronnie Cummins, International Director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) which organized the event.
Rep. Chellie Pingree, (D-Maine), said: “The message from consumers around the country is loud and clear: They want to know what’s in their food and they don’t want Congress stepping in to block efforts in states like Maine to require GMO labeling. This bill is a desperate attempt by Monsanto and their supporters to keep the public from knowing when they are buying a GMO product.”
Sixty-four countries require corporations to disclose whether or not their products contain GMOs. More than 90 percent of Americans surveyed say they want this right, also.
Protesters who couldn’t fit into the hearing room in the Rayburn Building attended a rally on the Capitol grounds, where speakers included Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Rep. Kate Webb, co-sponsor of Vermont’s GMO labeling law; Jonathan Emord, Washington D.C. attorney and author; Randy Hartnell, founder and president of Vital Choice Wild Seafood in Bellingham, Wash., Will Allen, Vermont farmer, activist and author; and others.
The OCA organized and promoted the protest with help from Friends of the Earth, Credo, Cornucopia Institute, Food & Water Watch, Mercola.com, Dr. Bronner’s, GMO Action Alliance, Label GMOs, March Against Monsanto, Moms Across America, Weston Price Foundation, Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, GMO Free USA, Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association, Green America/GMO Inside, MoveOn.org, Food Democracy Now, Maine Sierra Club, Health-Liberty Coalition, and many state GMO Free groups.
The groups organized buses from across the country, including from New Jersey; Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Maine, Chicago, West Virginia, Indiana, New York, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia.
H.R. 4432 was introduced in April by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.). It was scheduled for a hearing at 10:15 a.m. in the Health subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
If passed, H.R. 4432 would give sole authority to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to stipulate labeling requirements for foods containing genetically modified organism (GMOs). Groups that oppose the bill argue that under the U.S. Constitution, states and municipalities have the right to pass food labeling laws to protect the health of their citizens.
In May 2014, Vermont passed a stand-alone GMO labeling law. Maine and Connecticut have passed similar laws, but those laws can’t be enacted unless four or five contiguous states also pass mandatory GMO labeling bills. H.R. 4432 would make that impossible, leaving the laws in Maine and Connecticut essentially dead. The outcome of Measure 92, a GMO labeling initiative in Oregon, is currently unknown until a recount is complete.