By a vote of 275-150 (including the support of 45 Democrats), the U.S. House of Representatives passed the "Safe and Accurate Food Act" this past week.
Don't be fooled by the name.
The Act, which would prevent state and local governments from mandating the labeling of genetically engineered foods (GMOs), has alternatively been described by opponents as the "Deny Americans the Right to Know" or "DARK Act", as well as the "Monsanto Protection Act".
Disturbingly, the House vote comes on the heels of a new, peer-reviewed scientific report finding an "accumulation of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, and a dramatic depletion of glutathione, an anti-oxidant necessary for cellular detoxification, in GMO soy, indicating that formaldehyde and glutathione are likely critical criteria for distinguishing the GMO from its non-GMO counterpart."
The study, published in Agricultural Sciences this month, used "a new biology method to integrate 6,497 in vitro and in vivo laboratory experiments, from 184 scientific institutions, across 23 countries." It is critical of the U.S. government's current standard for GMO assessment which, the report concludes, are "outdated and unscientific for genetically engineered food since it was originally developed for assessing the safety of medical devices in the 1970s."
Peer review of the study cited its new methods and findings to conclude that "until such Standards are developed for testing, we believe it premature to approve GMOs and to consider them safe." The study's lead author, MIT-trained biologist Dr. V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, Ph.D, adds: "This is not a pro- or anti-GMO question. But, are we following the scientific method to ensure the safety of our food supply? Right now, the answer is 'no'."
The Environmental Working Group (EWG), one of 300 organizations opposing the "DARK Act", has vowed to fight the measure in the U.S. Senate.
Although the legislation would deprive U.S. citizens of a right to know possessed by citizens in 64 other nations including China and most of Europe, there is a silver lining, of sorts. No doubt final passage would furnish comedian Bill Maher with the material needed to repeat the hilarity he offered following California's rejection of a GMO labeling initiative last year.
"If you’re one of the millions of Californians who voted against labeling genetically modified foods," Maher said, "you can’t complain when it turns out there’s horse meat in your hamburger and your sushi is made out of lost cats and condoms. You said you didn’t want to know. Now lap that shit up!"