In response to Americans’ growing concern with food labeling, particularly labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Congress has proposed the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. 

But the bill’s title and content are misleading. Opponents have dubbed it the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act. Not only does the bill not mandate GMO labeling at the federal level, it also prohibits GMO labeling laws at the state level, further stifling the interest of consumers. This bill is counterproductive for consumers and businesses alike, and should be defeated. 


We’re entering an exciting new era of food—one driven by an expanding consumer base of millennial families who want to know exactly what they’re eating and how their food is grown. The increasing demand for transparency in the food industry has helped our company, Back to the Roots, evolve from a college experiment in urban mushroom farming to a successful start-up with Ready to Grow kits and Ready to Eat breakfast cereals available in 14,000 retail locations nationwide.

While much of the debate has focused on whether GMOs are safe for human consumption, we are not experts in this area and will rely on the hundreds of scientists devoting their time to the effects of GMOs to make this determination. 

What we do know is that the majority of GMO crops today are modified to be tolerant to a specific type of herbicide — primarily Glyphosate — which often leads to herbicide-resistant weeds, perpetually increasing the need and use of the chemical. Ultimately, some of these chemicals end up in our bodies. Regardless of their impact, families deserve to know about their presence so they can make educated decisions when purchasing food. 

More than 60 other nations around the world require GMO labeling, and we absolutely feel that American parents are entitled to the same right to know what’s in the food they are buying for their families. 

Polls consistently show that more than 90 percent of Americans want GMO products to be labeled. This does not mean that they feel GMOs are unsafe; but simply that people want to know what kind of food and farming they are supporting. Giving consumers more information is a market-friendly solution – it helps consumers decide which products they want, and companies to decide how much value there is in pursuing product changes.  

There’s also a significant and growing market for GMO-free products: Sales of non-GMO food and beverages reached $200 billion last year in the US alone. 

But what about the costs associated with labeling? This hasn’t been an issue for us at Back to the Roots. Food companies regularly change their labels (We’ve already gone through three packaging changes of our new Organic Stoneground Breakfast Cereals this year), and adding a few words to the back of a box does not change the cost of food products. 

It is true that having a patchwork of state laws could pose a problem for businesses, which is why we support the American Sustainable Business Council’s efforts to mandate GMO labeling at the federal level. However, we recognize that some states don’t want to wait. 

The bottom line is that mandatory GMO labeling will allow consumers to make more informed decisions. This may mean businesses will have to work harder to adjust to consumer demands for GMO-free products, but we see this as an inevitable transition within the industry to meet the needs of a new generation and era of food transparency. 

Implementation of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act will keep consumers in the dark, leaving America as one of the only industrial countries that doesn’t protect the right to know what’s in our food. The Senate should stop this bill from moving forward and work toward alternate legislation to empower consumers and promote true food transparency.

Arora and Velez are co-founders of Back to the Roots, an Oakland, Calif.-based company that makes organic “Ready to Grow” and “Ready to Eat” food products.