The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, July 23, passed a hotly debated measure that would set up a system of voluntary labeling of foods made with genetically engineered crops and blocks, including pre-empting a state law set to take effect next year in Vermont.
Dubbed the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act by supporters, but the “Deny Americans the Right to Know” or DARK Act, by opponents, the measure was approved 275-150 with 45 Democrats voting for the bill.
House passage marks a victory for food and agricultural companies that have lobbied for the bill, and a blow to opponents, which include consumer, health and environmental groups and organic food industry players.
House members had a heated debate ahead of the vote with supporters claiming GMOs are proven safe. They said mandatory labeling would burden the food industry with unwieldy and costly requirements.
Opponents countered that 64 other countries require labeling of GMO foods, the science on safety is mixed, and consumers have a right to know if their food is made with GMOs.
Representative G.K. Butterfield, also a Democrat, said the bill would require regulators to examine the safety profile of new GMO foods, replacing a voluntary consultation process, and set a national standard for voluntary GMO labeling.
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