Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes Against the DARK Act, Calls for Federal Labeling of GMO Foods

July 23, 2015
Press Release
Washington, DC—Today, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) voted against H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, also known as the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, which would roll back years of progress in ensuring that food with genetically engineered ingredients is properly labeled. Hawai‘i is one of 30 states that have made progress on GMO labeling efforts. The DARK Act would pre-empt state and local laws that already require labeling of genetically modified foods and would create a food labeling system based solely on industry science and corporate influences. Leading up to the vote, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard spoke on the House floor today urging her colleagues to vote no on the DARK Act.
 
 
Full text of the speech is below
 
“Thank you Mr. Speaker, I’m rising today in strong opposition to H.R. 1599, which actually stands in direct contradiction to the wishes of almost 90% of Americans across the country.
 
It’s no wonder that this legislation has more commonly become known to people who are very concerned about this issue as the DARK Act—or the Deny Americans the Right to Know Act. And that’s really what’s at issue here.
 
This legislation makes a mockery of transparency and leaves U.S. consumers in the dark.
 
What are they so afraid ofʻ Why deprive Americans of the ability to make educated choices about whether they want food with genetically modified ingredientsʻ  Why make the labeling of such food just voluntaryʻ  Why not require it, as we require basic nutrition information on processed foods nowʻ
 
Why not join the 64 other countries, including the EU, Japan, Australia, Brazil, and China in empowering our constituents with information: Making. Mandatory. Labeling.
 
My state of Hawai‘i is the number one state for experimental Genetically Engineered plant field trials, according to the USDA.  Many of my constituents are very concerned about these GE crop field testings because of the lack of information about these trials and the pesticides that are being applied to the fields.
 
On the island of Kaua‘i in my district, residents organized and passed an ordinance requiring large agrichemical companies to disclose the pesticides they are spraying and observe buffer zones around schools, homes, and hospitals to prevent chemical spray drifts.
 
The DARK Act could overrule the rights of local communities to make such decisions to protect their health and safety, and guide the growth of their agricultural industries.
 
This legislation could overturn a ban on the cultivation of genetically-engineered coffee passed by Hawai‘i island constituents potentially damaging the global reputation of Hawai‘i’s famous and unique Kona coffee; the only domestic coffee industry in our country.
 
It could negate a ban on the cultivation of genetically-engineered taro, endangering a main staple and a culturally significant plant for indigenous Native Hawaiians.
 
This is why I’m calling on my colleagues to adopt the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, I urge my colleagues today to vote against the DARK Act and support common-sense labeling as we move forward.”
 
Background
 
H.R. 1599 passed with a vote of 275-150. The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration.  
 
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is an original co-sponsor of H.R. 913, the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, which would require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to label foods containing genetically-engineered ingredients. H.R. 913 is currently being considered in the House Energy and Commerce committee.
 
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