Labeling legislation introduced

Sen. Pat Roberts introduced a bill to address the growing threat of a patchwork of state labeling laws and called for the urgent passage of this important legislation.

“The introduction of Roberts’s proposal is an important first step to restoring sanity to America’s food labeling laws,” said Chip Bowling, National Corn Growers Association President, a farmer from Maryland. “GMOs are perfectly safe and America’s farmers rely on this proven technology to protect our crops from insects, weeds and drought. Important food safety and labeling decisions should be made by the scientists and qualified policymakers at the FDA, not political activists and campaigns. Yet, despite the scientific evidence, states such as Vermont are quickly moving toward costly, confusing mandatory labeling legislation. It is imperative that the Senate takes up this issue quickly to avoid a situation in which all American consumers pay a high price and gain little actual information.”

Vermont’s mandatory law requiring on-package labels of foods containing ingredients that have been genetically modified takes effect in July, and unless Congress acts swiftly, families, farmers and food companies will face chaos in the market and higher costs. Multiple studies have shown that the associated costs with Vermont’s GMO-labeling law and a subsequent patchwork of state laws will cost American families hundreds of dollars more in groceries each year — with low-income Americans being hit the hardest.

Roberts’s proposal brings continuity to the marketplace, ensuring that consumers have the access to product information they deserve without stigmatizing this safe, proven technology valued by American farmers.

The bill, which will go through a markup by the Senate Committee on Agriculture this week, will provide a national framework that places standards in the hands of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and creates a campaign that will educate the public on both the safety of GMOs and on the way in which they can find out more about the foods they purchase. Not everyone is please with the bill, however.

“National Farmers Union (NFU) represents 200,000 family farmers and ranchers across the nation who employ a wide variety of practices and philosophies.  Many of our members have chosen to incorporate genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into their production methods, while others have made different choices.  The rights of GMO and non-GMO producers should be respected as equal while public concerns about GMOs are evaluated by federal agencies,” said Roger Johnson, NFU president. “NFU also values consumer rights, including the ability of consumers to have access to as much pertinent information as they want to know about their food.  We support mandatory labeling of foods derived from genetically engineered plants, although we do not have policy on what such labeling should look like. As such, NFU opposes the proposed GMO labeling bill in its current form.”

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