Jul 14, 2016
House approves GMO labeling bill

Legislation on the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMO) has passed through the U.S. House of Representatives and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law. The bill would create a national standard for labeling food made with GMOs.

The bipartisan legislation, S.764, crafted by U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., was approved by the House on a 306-117 vote.

The bill passed through the U.S. Senate by a vote of 63 to 30.

Senator Roberts released a statement following the legislation’s approval:

“In the course of negotiating this legislation for nearly a year, I am proud this work brought together the largest coalition of agriculture and food groups ever. Over 1,000 organizations joined me in putting the farmer and rancher first,” said Chairman Roberts.

“I am proud of this solution and the bipartisan example we have set for future agriculture policy discussions. I’m grateful for the leadership of fellow Kansan, Congressman Mike Pompeo, and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway in getting this across the finish line in the House and for the partnership of Senator Debbie Stabenow. 

“Averting a confusing patchwork of state labeling mandates serves the American economy, farmers and ranchers, and consumers well.”

Industry organizations have released statements regarding the legislation’s approval.

Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of United Fresh Produce Association, applauded the passage by the House of legislation that, “for the first time, establishes federal standards for the labeling of GMO foods.”

“We support enactment of this measure because we believe it provides much-needed clarity for the food and agriculture sector, as well as consumers,” Stenzel said in a statement. “The bill puts the requirement for labeling on those companies that introduce these foods into the marketplace, which may reduce the pressure on companies to seek “non-GMO” verified labeling. At the same time, the bill provides significant flexibility to companies with genetically engineered foods as to the manner of labeling, whether on package text, symbol or link to a website.”

Bob Whitaker, PMA chief science and technology officer, said:

“Having one national framework for labeling is vastly preferred by our membership to the risk of a patchwork of differing state-by-state laws, and the marketplace and consumer confusion that would have certainly followed.

“That said, PMA is concerned about the precedent that this legislation sets by requiring disclosure of information that does not impact human health and safety. There is broad scientific consensus that foods from GE crops are safe, as concluded a recent report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.

Generally, PMA plans to continue to advocate for a flexible food production system that doesn’t curtail the innovation that fresh produce and other food producers will need to feed the world’s growing population. Specific to this law, PMA will closely monitor USDA’s rulemaking process and work to ensure that the fresh produce industry’s voice is represented if/as needed.”

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