I don’t want to be an alarmist and make things out to be worse than they are, but we are truly on the precipice of organic disappearing as we know it.
The very dangerous H.R. 1599 (also known as the DARK Act – the Deny Americans the Right to Know Act) just passed a House subcommittee and is expected to go to the House floor for a vote any day now. Representative Collin Peterson (D-MN), ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, has said quite confidently that it will pass in the House and the only question is whether it passes in the Senate.
If the House does indeed pass the bill, someone in the Senate would have to sponsor a similar bill, and this bill would have to pass in the Senate before going in front of President Obama for his signature.
Among other things, H.R. 1599 would (1) make it illegal for states to label GMOs (2) make it nearly impossible for the FDA to create a national GMO-labeling standard and (3) food products could be labeled as “natural”, even if they contained GMOs, which are not natural.
However, there is an additional component of the bill that is not being communicated strongly enough to the organic community.
H.R. 1599 would make it illegal for states and counties to restrict the planting of GMOs in any way.
To me, this is the scariest part of the bill.
Right now, restrictions on the planting of GMOs are in place in parts of California, Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii. If these places were no longer able to restrict or control the planting of GMOs, organic farms in these states could get contaminated. (GMOs spread via bees and drift, thereby contaminating nearby organic farms.)
If organic farms get contaminated, these farms could potentially lose their organic certification and no longer sell their products as organic. Not only would they be forced to shut their doors, but a very important source of organic food is gone for good.
As it stands now, there are already major supply issues with organic, and I hear about shortages all of the time from friends of mine who sell organic products for a living. I can’t tell you how often they tell me that finding an adequate supply of various organic ingredients is becoming increasingly difficult and ridiculously expensive.
So, if there is a law which would make it illegal for counties and states to restrict the planting of GMOs – all necessary to protect organic – the future of our organic food supply is at real risk.
What is happening now in Oregon is a perfect example of this.
In Jackson County and Josephine County, both in Oregon, organic farmers and consumers voted to ban the planting of GMOs. This was done primarily because genetically-modified canola would have contaminated (cross-pollinated with) similar brassicas – broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, and turnips – and naturalized as a permanent, GMO-weed.
Had citizens of these two counties not voted for this ban, which was recently upheld by the courts, millions of acres of precious organic and non-GMO farmland in Willamette Valley would have been in danger of being completely decimated.
If H.R. 1599 passes, the restriction of GMOs being planted in these two counties in Oregon will be lifted, and it is just a matter of time before this land is lost forever to GMOs. This pure, unadulterated, organic land will never come back.
Not only that but the lives of hard-working organic farmers will be ruined, the supply of organic food will shrink, and prices will skyrocket.
This is not something that we can afford to let happen.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Under no circumstances can we let the DARK Act pass.
So, please contact your elected representatives in Washington D.C. and demand that they reject the (absurdly named) Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act – H.R. 1599.
You can do so by:
1) Calling them directly.
Click HERE to find your Senators.
Click HERE to find your Representatives.
2) Sign the Center for Food Safety e-petition by clicking HERE.
Sign the Just Label It e-petition by clicking HERE.
Sign the Food Democracy Now! e-petition by clicking HERE.
Sign the Environmental Working Group e-petition by clicking HERE.
Work with the Organic Consumers Association to petition politicians in states across the country by clicking HERE.
Thank you so much for taking action. The future of our food supply depends upon it.