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Senate Committee OKs "DARK Act"

March 2, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Senate Agriculture Committee has given approval to what opponents call the DARK Act, or Deny Americans the Right to Know.

It would block states from putting genetically modified food labeling laws into place, and would reverse strict GMO laws that some states already have passed. Claire DiMattina, executive director of Food Policy Action, said it sends the message that we don't have the right to know what we're eating.

"You don't have to put a label on it, you don't have to say that there's GMOs in the food. You canm, and if you choose to, then it won't actually be clear and obvious on the back of the package," she said. "It will be a QR code that you'll have to scan with your cellphone."

The federal bill would pre-empt state laws by establishing a national voluntary labeling standard for foods made with GMOs, and is similar to the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act that passed the House last summer. Supporters say making food labeling mandatory would cost grocery shoppers hundred of dollars more each year.

DiMattina said this law would make it too difficult for people to check the label. She said polls have found that 93 percent of Americans want to know if they're eating GMOs, and added that other countries have made that possible.

"The same right, this right to know what's in your food, is held by consumers in 64 nations, including Saudi Arabia, all of the U.K, Mexico, but we don't," she said. "We don't have that right."

DiMattina said this new legislation would block states such as Vermont, Connecticut and Maine from enacting the GMO labeling laws that already have been approved by voters. She vowed that her group will increase pressure on lawmakers to make sure they reject this bill.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD