August 1, 2015

The DARK Act and Going Forward, Labeling and Beyond


A few more thoughts on labeling and the DARK Act.
1. I oppose the DARK Act because it’s an intensified centralizing preemptionist legal assault on democracy and community rights. Not just state-level labeling but any kind of lower-level bans on pesticides and/or GMOs as well as initiatives supporting food sovereignty and community food would be outlawed. While in theory this could help hasten a motion toward the civil disobedience/extralegal mindset, in practice this isn’t happening much so far.

2. As for the effect on labeling in itself, this isn’t as important since the labeling-as-panacea mindset is something we need to get beyond anyway. If anything, I think the idea of labeling as something martyred to corporate power is more useful than the thing itself could ever be.

3. We already know from examples like that of Scott Faber and Just Label It that labeling advocacy is compatible with a basically pro-Monsanto position. Indeed, labeling advocates used to point to how in Europe Monsanto made a virtue of necessity and pretended to embrace labeling. Of course Monsanto didn’t mean it, but the point is that although Monsanto doesn’t want labeling, it can coexist with it if necessary. Now that kind of “coexistence” is further disproof of the notion that labeling can enable a peaceful coexistence between GMOs and any kind of healthful, democratic food and agriculture.

The fact that labeling advocates have always touted how their proposed policy can coexist with Monsanto also puts in perspective any claim they ever had that Labeling = Anti-GMO.

4. I’ve already written many times about why labeling is physically and politically insufficient. Also, non-GMO labeling deals with only one kind of agricultural poison, but lets through many others. The rise of a non-GMO testing and certification sector generates yet another group with a vested interest in the continuation of the GMO regime. Here I’ll make one more point about the politics of it. To whatever extent people are supposed to see labeling as sufficient, and therefore the fight for it as sufficient, it can only function to misdirect energy and passion and delay the abolitionist consciousness and movement. We can be sure that wherever labeling is actually enacted, the party line from both the mainstream system and from professionalized labeling advocates will be, “Now we have to give the labeling system time to work. For now go about your business and stop worrying about it.” This is meant to buy time for Monsanto, and we don’t have time, perhaps many years, to waste.

5. On the other hand, many people fear and loathe GMOs and other agricultural poisons and want to get rid of them, and turn to labeling because that’s the only action they see being touted. They turn to it because they haven’t yet been able to see an alternative.

6. So where we talk about labeling, and where we support and get involved with labeling campaigns, and where we oppose measures like the DARK Act on behalf of the idea of labeling, our goal has to be to encourage the latter mindset and oppose and discredit the former. The goal is to use the idea of labeling, and the example of its suppression by Monsanto’s system, to move the discussion and consciousness along the vector from “better consumerism” and “coexistence” to abolitionism.


1 Comment

  1. […] credit for transparency” as one analyst says in the piece. That’s one of several reasons I’m ambivalent about labels. . I continue to note the proliferation of the Frank Luntz propaganda term “patchwork” […]

    Pingback by GMO News Summary, January 8th 2016 | Volatility — January 8, 2016 @ 8:28 am

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