A controversial anti-GMO labeling bill nicknamed the DARK Act (Deny Americans the Right to Know) has been rejected by the Senate.
The bill, originally proposed by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas) and Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-North Carolina) and called the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act would deny states the rights to create their own GMO labeling laws, and ban mandatory federal labeling. Instead, it would have created voluntary federal labeling standards that companies would have been free to follow or reject.
The DARK Act needed 60 votes to pass and only received 44 on the Senate floor. The vote follows a petition signed by thousands of chefs who support GMO labeling, led by Tom Colicchio.
Currently only one state — Vermont — is poised to enact mandatory GMO labeling standards, but the rejection of this bill would open the door for more states to follow suit.
"All over this country, people are becoming more conscious about the food they eat and the food they serve their kids,” Vermont Senator and presidential nominee Bernie Sanders said. “When parents go to the store and purchase food for their children, they have a right to know what they are feeding them. GMO labeling exists in 64 other countries. There is no reason it can’t exist here.”
There is concern from proponents of the original bill that mandatory labeling would increase food prices and cripple food producers.
“It’s going to have a dramatic impact on the cost of food over time,” Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina and a member of the Senate Agriculture committee, told The New York Times. “It’s going to be kind of a de facto regressive tax. The poorest people are going to be harmed the most because it is going to drive up the cost of the food supply chain.”