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GMO Labeling: Safe or Dark?

As the U.S. Senate prepares to debate the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, members of the New England Farmers Union say transparent labeling is in the best interest of both farmers and consumers. Courtesy: NEFU.
As the U.S. Senate prepares to debate the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, members of the New England Farmers Union say transparent labeling is in the best interest of both farmers and consumers. Courtesy: NEFU.
September 29, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. – It already passed the U.S. House, but there is no stopping the debate over whether the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act really does inform New England consumers about GMO food.

Kate Snyder, director of membership and programs with the New England Farmers Union, says it's hard enough to make sense of food labels. She says consumers need accurate information as to when GMOs, also known as genetically modified organisms, end up on the dinner table.

"Labeling is good for consumers and for farmers, because the relationship between a farmer and a consumer is based on trust," she says. "Transparency in labeling builds that trust."

Supporters of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act say it will continue voluntary consultation with the FDA about foods derived from new plant varieties. Opponents call it the DARK Act, which stands for "Deny Americans the Right to Know" when GMOS are in the food chain.

Snyder says the matter is less about using GMOs and having "one tool in the tool box," than it is about being transparent with consumers.

"Farmers see the benefit of GMOs and we understand that," she says. "We are not anti-technology. We believe that farmers have the right to choose the farming practices that work for them."

Citing poll after poll, Snyder says consumers want transparency in food labeling, and she adds that the New England Farmers Union believes producers want to share that information with them. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (HR 1599) passed the House by a wide margin in July, and is expected to be a top item for debate in the Senate this fall.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH