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Organic food industry divided after Organic Trade Association BETRAYS labeling movement by signing off on sham GMO-labeling bill

Organic Trade Association

(NaturalNews) Both houses of Congress have now passed a measure to repeal all state and local laws requiring the labeling of food ingredients made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and President Obama has indicated that he will sign the bill into law.

While it's no surprise that the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and Monsanto lobbied hard for this law, the shocking truth is that the Stabenow-Roberts bill – popularly known as the Denying Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act 2.0 – could not have passed without the active endorsement of major organic food companies and trade associations. These groups' collusion with Monsanto has divided the organic food community, deepening a division between Big Organics and smaller organic farmers and companies.

Farmers cut ties with Organic Trade Association

The DARK Act poses as a GMO labeling bill, but in fact it eliminates all state and local labeling laws, replacing them with a completely voluntary, non-enforceable program that requires consumers to scan QR codes with their smartphones or call 1-800 numbers to find out whether the food they are thinking of buying is made with GMOs. Even more shockingly, the bill defines "GMO" in such a way as to exempt 95 percent of foods made with GMOs, including all foods made with Roundup Ready or Bt corn and soy.

Ninety percent of U.S. residents support mandatory GMO labeling laws such as those now in force in Vermont.

Critics also accuse the DARK Act of being discriminatory.

"One-in-five Americans in the U.S. does not have smartphones," said Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.). "That includes 50 percent of Americans who are low-income and living in rural areas, and over 65 percent of elderly Americans."

According to the Center for Food Safety, the Dark Act could never have passed the Senate without active lobbying from organic companies and groups.

"It's important for the world to understand that it was the Organic Trade Association that killed our state GMO labeling laws by backing Monsanto's Stabenow-Roberts bill," said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, president of the farmer-controlled Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA).

Following the DARK Act passing the Senate, OSGATA announced that it was withdrawing its membership from the OTA.

"The Organic Trade Association can no longer be trusted," Gerritsen said, "and it's clear that organic farmers can no longer condone this dubious trade association's troubling behavior."

Critics note that many of the companies represented by the OTA are owned by parent companies that are themselves members of the GMA and oppose mandatory labeling laws.

Who are the 'organic traitors?'

Groups and companies that lobbied on behalf of the bill and convinced Senators that the organics industry would accept it, include the OTA, Whole Foods Market and UNFI (the country's largest organic and natural foods wholesalers). The OTA effort was led by Board Chair Melissa Hughes of Organic Valley. Other OTA brands leading the effort include Smuckers and White Wave.

According to the Organic Consumers Association, another individual who lobbied for the DARK Act was Gary Hirschberg, CEO of Stonyfield Farm and chairman of Just Label It, which has been condemned as a GMO industry front group. Hirschberg has previously come under fire for hiring former GMA head lobbyist Scott Faber as head of Just Label It.

Faber, who also took part in the negotiations on behalf of the DARK Act, is vice president of governmental affairs at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

Some of these groups and individuals have denied supporting the DARK Act. Hirschberg says he did not take part in the negotiations, and that Just Label It does not support the bill. The EWG says it does not support the bill, despite Faber's own role in getting it passed. Faber has declined to comment.

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