Why I Oppose the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014

Have you heard of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014?  You may have heard it by it’s alter ego name- the Denying Americans the Right to Know Act, or otherwise shortened to the DARK Act.  No matter what you call it, it refers to a piece of legislation introduced in April 2014 by Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas.  The bill (H.R. 4432) was created to amend the existing Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act pertaining to foods that have been in some way bio-engineered (OR food that would be considered GMO by most people).

My goal when sharing information with all of you is to avoid playing off your fears and give you a thoroughly researched overview.  For that reason, I have gone directly to the source and read the bill.  Before you form an opinion about any of this, I encourage you do do the same.  You can find both a summary and a full text version at congress.gov or just by clicking here.
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At the surface, a bill called the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act sounds awesome.  Who doesn’t want accurate labeling to keep us all safe?  However, after reviewing the H.R. 4432, I cannot justify support for such a far reaching and imposing piece of legislation.
To be clear, this law would specifically pertain to plant matter with altered DNA (Section 101, 1-3).  This has nothing to do with the crossbreeding argument, my friends.
I’ve pulled out the specific details that I feel create cause for concern and paraphrased for those of you short on time.  I also included the section of the H.R. 4432 where the specifics can be found:
  • The entire process of pre-market (before it’s available for sale) GMO labeling would take place at one of the highest levels of our government.  Meaning that the manufacturer of said product would present its’ case to the Secretary of Health and Human Services through the USDA’s voluntary consultation process. (Section 102, B).

Why this is an Issue:  Excuse my skepticism, but I’ve yet to be amazed by any government controlled entity or process.  Especially when it comes to the food system or my health.  Through this new process, the Secretary of Health and Human Services would have direct control in determining if the end product is genetically different enough from the organic form to be considered genetically altered.

  • The individual rights of the states would have NO authority to mandate individual labeling pertaining to GMOs (Section 104, B).

Why this is an Issue: The idea of centralized control of our food system is incredibly frightening.  One office in our entire nation would have complete control as to whether or not you are allowed to know if a product was genetically modified… or more accurately, genetically modified ENOUGH to be labeled.

  • If the Secretary of Health and Human Services decides that the product is not genetically modified enough to to warrant a GMO label, the product can be labeled as “Natural” (Section 201).

Why this is an Issue:  Sorry, but…. WHAT?  Ok, let’s think of it this way…  the only reason a food would go through this entire process is because the DNA has been altered in the first place.  So if it’s not TOO generically modified, it is totally acceptable to slap a “Natural” label on the food.  Hmpf.

  • Individual states would have NO authority to say a manufacturer cannot market these products as “Natural” (Section 202).

Why this is an Issue:  Again, this is allowing one office of the government to control a label that, at a glance, implies that a product is healthy.  I just can’t understand why this is a good idea…

Guys, this is an issue.  I can assure you that no matter what you think is the healthiest way to live our lives, the answer does not lie with giving total control of labeling to the federal government.
My typical response to the GMO argument is to stop buying processed food and go straight to your farmer.  However, someone could write an entire book on the amount of damage that has been done by USDA policy being dictated by personal and corporate agendas.  Ohhhhhh wait… Nina Teicholz already has.
In my humble opinion, this policy is another misstep in the long line government oversight into our health and wellness.

What Can You Do:

There is a hearing on H.R. 4332 on Wednesday, December 8th.  Below is a list of congressmen and women who will be sitting in on this hearing.  Please note this is not up for a vote… YET.  But your voice NOW can set the tone for the entire trajectory.  If you have an opinion on GMO labeling and the rights of individual states, please call before Wednesday.

A note to the haters:

Before the haters jump in to claim that I am an ignoramus for not knowing that there have been no clinical trials proving any danger in GMOs…. I KNOW.  The point of this write-up is not to tell you that GMOs are dangerous.  Besides enough anecdotal evidence to fill the internet, the is quite frankly no hard scientific evidence to support that assertion.
My case is that I have no interest in consuming Genetically Modified Organisms.  And as an American consumer, I have a right to know how a food product has been manufactured before I put it in my body.  Because, ya know, ‘Murica and all that.
-Kelsey

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