As chefs, we have witnessed a remarkable and encouraging surge in consumer interest in food. Consumers want to know everything about their food -- including who made it, what’s in it and how it was produced. This is a trend that should be encouraged by policymakers as food and farming have enormous impacts on our health and on the health of our environment.
Congress has facilitated this trend by requiring food disclosures, including the Nutrition Facts Panel and, more recently, menu labels. But, this week, Congress may take a step backward by denying consumers the right to know about the presence of genetically modified organisms.
It’s ridiculous to expect the American people to wait on hold to find out what’s in their food. But, that exactly what the new version of the DARK act contemplates – even though nine out of ten consumers consistently tell us they want the right to know. Americans just want the same rights as consumers in 64 nations, including Russia and China. Fortunately, food prices did not increase in those countries as consumers simply viewed GMO labels as more information, not a warning. And let’s be clear. This not about being anti-science or claiming GMOs are dangerous. This is about addressing the mass confusion in the marketplace and making sure consumers have the right to know what is in their food.
Efforts to block GMO labeling assume that consumers aren’t smart enough to make their own food choices. At a time when public support for Congress has never been lower, such a “Washington knows best” attitude will surely reinforce the sense that Congress is out of touch with the American people. This week, the Senate should show legislators trust consumers to do their homework and be trusted – even encouraged – to consider the impacts of their food choices. The Senate should reject the DARK Act.
Colicchio is the co-founder of Food Policy Action, a good food advocate and chef and owner of Crafted Hospitality. Andres is a good food advocate and chef and owner of ThinkFoodGroup.