Democrats and Republicans may seem to be more divided than ever in this election year, but there is at least one thing they both agree on. That is the passage of a new federal GMO Label Law also known as the DARK Act, which President Obama has just signed into law. Proponents claim that signing this bill into law, is the fulfillment of President Obama's original campaign promise to the American people that he would enforce our right to know what is in the food we eat. After all, reportedly up to 90% of the American people are in favor of a GMO Label Law. However, opponents claim that a close examination of the law reveals that this could not be further from the truth.
The new federal law purportedly preempts all state laws such as the consumer friendly transparent GMO Label Laws passed in Vermont, Connecticut and Maine. The federal law will also effectively stop the approximately 15 other states that were considering passing similar laws. Further, instead of a consumer friendly clear label identifying foods that contain GMO's, the new federal law provides multiple options for compliance. These options include adding text to the label, use of a yet to be determined symbol on the label, or the use of a Q.R. Code that consumers would have to scan with a smart phone. Reportedly one third of all Americans do not have smart phones capable of scanning digital codes.
Beyond the arduous task of potentially having to scan each food item and retrieve information to indicate whether or not a product contains GMO's, the federal law only applies in limited cases. In particular, the federal law purportedly exempts all foods where meat, poultry and egg products are the main ingredient and excludes food served in restaurants. In addition, it excludes any food product from an animal that consumed GMO feed. Lastly, the Agriculture Department has two years to write the new label rules.
Proponents of the new federal Label Law, claim that it eliminates patch work laws that are different in every state and is a step in the right direction. Opponents to the new federal Label Law, claim that the law protects the likes of Monsanto more than it protects consumers and that it doesn't even remotely reflect the type of label law approximately 90% of all Americans support. All of this leaves consumers to determine for themselves, in the words of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, "Who's Zoomin' Who?"
Long Island Lawyer
Paul A. Lauto, Esq.