In the news

Illinois PIRG
Public News Service
Brandon Campbell

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The U.S. Senate on Wednesday blocked a bill that opponents call the DARK Act, or Deny Americans the Right to Know. The bill would have reversed some strict genetically modified food laws that some states already have passed.

It also would have prohibited other states from applying their own GMO labeling laws in the future.

Abe Scarr, director of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) is praising Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin for voting against the bill. Scarr says the move is a big win for consumers.

"We certainly appreciate Senator Durbin's vote to keep this bill from moving forward," says Scarr. "I know he's representing Illinois; there's big ag in the state, who has come out strongly against GMO labeling. So, we appreciate that he did the right thing in our view, protecting consumers' right to know what's in their food."

Supporters of the bill argued it would have established a national voluntary-labeling standard for foods made with GMOs, instead of food producers having to navigate a patchwork of individual state standards.

A recent Associated Press poll found that about two-thirds of U.S. consumers support GMO labeling. And Scarr says labeling supporters are not trying to make food producers jump through more hoops. Rather, he argues that most states that are considering labeling laws are following similar guidelines.

"We want something that works. We want something that informs consumers," Scarr says. "We'd love to have a national standard. We don't see Congress taking action in the right direction, so that's why we're in the states, getting the states to do the right thing."

Currently, Vermont is set to have the first-in-the-nation mandatory GMO labeling law, which takes effect on July 1.

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