On Wednesday December 10th approximately 700 protesters from 22 states descended on Washington D.C. to protest a hearing on HR.4432 otherwise known as the DARK Act (Denying American’s Right to Know Act). The Act aims to preempt and overturn Vermont’s first in the nation GMO labeling law without creating a national mandatory labeling standard. On hand at the rally were members of the Vermont Right to Know Leadership team Will Allen and Cat Buxton, as well as Rep. Kate Webb, one of the lead sponsors of Vermont’s labeling law. Despite waiting for hours to enter the hearing room the protesters were turned away when the chambers were filled. The crowd then moved to rally on the lawn of the Rayburn office building.
Will Allen, manager of Cedar Circle Farm in East Thetford spoke at the rally, and commented afterward saying “There were people here from all over the country, two buses came from Michigan, there were also people from Indiana, Florida and Maine. Everyone who spoke was so eloquent and passionate about their right to know what is in their food. I was really impressed by Jonathan Emord, who spoke fervently about the Pompeo bill being an assault on states’ rights and the fundamental right of people to know what is in the food they are eating.” Emord, a nationally known attorney, who specializes in Constitutional issues, provided written testimony to the Vermont Legislature supporting the legal standing of the Vermont labeling law.
Inside the hearing room Rep. Webb testified on behalf of Vermonters and the state’s labeling law. Rep. Webb said, “I was asked a number of questions by members of the Sub-Committee about Vermont’s GMO Food Labeling bill that primarily focused on the provision that prohibits the use of the term “natural” in the labeling of foods that are genetically engineered. Because the sub-committee’s focus is on health they didn’t address the broad issues of environmental impacts and concerns of religious groups that VT’s bill covers.” Rep. Webb reported that she also met with Congressman Welch and with staff from Senator Leahy’s office while in DC. All of Vermont’s federal delegation is strongly supportive of states’ rights to require labeling of GMO food and they are co-sponsors of federal legislation to require mandatory labeling. Rep. Webb said, “There is some hope among the Vermont delegation that the Pompeo bill, the ‘DARK Act,’ will not get to see the light of day.”