Foes of GMO foods won a huge victory this week when the US Senate blocked legislation that would have prevented states from requiring labeling on GMO products.
The Biotech Labeling Solutions Act, better known by opponents as the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, failed to obtain the 60 votes needed to “invoke cloture” and force a debate and final vote. The vote was 48 votes in favor of cloture, 49 against.
The bill would have overturned a GMO labeling law in Vermont that takes effect July 1.
“It’s not only a states’ rights issue but I think the American people ought to know what’s in their food,” US Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) said. “We’re not banning food in Vermont. All we’re saying is if you’re going to buy food know what’s in it.”
After the vote, the act’s sponsor, Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), withdrew the legislation and vowed to keep fighting for its passage.
Big Food Spent $100 million on Fight
“That’s a great sign for Vermont and we should work together to make sure that they’re not back at this again next week,” Vermont’s Democratic Governor, Peter Shumlin, told National Public Radio.
Shumlin and other supporters of GMO labeling have their work cut for them. The Environmental Working Group reported that food and biotech companies spent $100 million on efforts to kill GMO labeling in the past year. Corporations fighting against GMO labeling include Kellogg, PepsiCo Inc., Monsanto and Dow Chemical Co.
The Center for Food Safety said the vote effectively defeated the bill. The group opposes the bill.
“The defeat of the DARK Act is a major victory for the food movement and America’s right to know,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety. “It also is an important victory for Democracy over the attempt of corporate interests to keep Americans in the Dark about the foods they buy and feed their families.”
The bill is Senate Bill 764.
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