Congress over the last month and there is enough blame to go around to both parties that voted for them. The two bills are The Country of Origin Labeling Amendments Act of 2015 and The Safe & Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 also known as the Dark Act.
The Country of Origin Labeling Amendments Act of 2015
The House of Representatives has voted to repeal Country of Origin labeling (COOL) for beef, pork, and chicken.
What is COOL? Country Of Origin Labeling (COOL) (or mCOOL [m for mandatory]) is a requirement signed into American law under Title X of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (known as the 2002 Farm Bill, codified at 7 U.S.C. § 1638a) It required all food to be labeled as to what country it originated from.
Texas Republican Rep. Michael Conaway’s Country of Origin Labeling Amendments Act of 2015 passed late in the evening under the cover of Darkness on June 10th of this year by a 300-131 vote.
Conaway introduced the bill on May 18 — the same day the World Trade Organization rejected a U.S. appeal of its decision that COOL unfairly discriminates against meat imports and gives the advantage to domestic meat products.
COOL, which went into effect for meat in 2013, require that packaging indicate the country, or countries, where animals were born, raised and slaughtered.
Supporters of repeal don’t want the U.S. subjected to the $3.6 billion in potential retaliatory tariffs sought by Canada and Mexico. They also argue that the rule has already burdened the U.S. meat industry.
“The program has not worked, and it is time to put this failed experiment behind us once and for all,” Conaway said during the floor debate.
He and Reps. Dan Benishek (R-MI), Jim Costa (D-CA), David Rouzer (R-NC), David Scott (D-GA) and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) asserted that COOL has no impact on food safety.
“Mandatory food labeling is not about food safety,” Benishek said. “No matter where our food comes from, regulations remain in place to ensure safety and traceability regardless of origin.
The Dark Act
There are two names for H.R. 1599, the controversialRepublican-backed bill concerning GMO labeling that is currently moving through the House of Representatives.
The first is its official name: The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015. The second is the nickname given by its opponents for what it really is: Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act.
Critics of GMOs have a long list of concerns. Take Monsanto’s notorious “Roundup Ready” seeds. They have been bred to resist an herbicide recently deemed a “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organization; they have led to a rise in monoculture crop production; and they have been linked to the decline of the Monarch butterfly. Critics also worry about genetic contamination and a lack of research into the long-term health effects of the crops.
For these reasons and more, two economists recently called GMOs “perhaps the greatest case of human hubris ever” in a New York Times editorial, saying agriculture industry has created a system “too big to fail,” much like the banking industry in 2008.
Meanwhile, GMO supporters argue that the world is facing a global hunger crisis, and foods genetically modified to have more nutrients could be potential lifesavers.
But H.R. 1599 is not about the existence of GMOs, which are entrenched in American agriculture (GMO crops account for around 90 percent of corn and soy grown in the country). It’s about whether the genetically modified foods you buy should be labeled as such. And because independent poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans support GMO labeling, the bill’s opponents see the bill as nothing more than the agrochemical industry flexing its lobbying muscles.
The Dark Act passed through the Congressional House on Friday where it heads for the U.S. Senate and then to Obama to sign for passage.