The much-discussed GMO labeling bill introduced last month by Pat Roberts in the U.S. Senate took another step forward this week with approval from the Senate Ag Committee.
“Today’s bipartisan committee approval of Chairman Pat Roberts’ labeling bill is a reaffirmation of common sense and fair play in the marketplace. The legislation establishes national standards for foods made with genetically engineered ingredients, ensuring consumers and farmers aren’t forced to deal with a confusing patchwork of different state labeling mandates. It requires that labels be based in science and supports our long-standing grassroots policy for voluntary labeling and factual information sharing on the value of this important agricultural technology,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Farm Bureau believes in meaningful disclosure that serves to inform and educate consumers on the innovative technologies farmers and ranchers use to provide food for this nation and our customers around the world. We support Chairman Roberts’ bill without hesitation, we appreciate the bipartisan support shown by the committee, and we look forward to swift passage by the Senate. We stand ready to work with Senate and House leaders to finalize this important legislation and secure the president’s signature.”
Not everyone is pleased with the bill, however.
“The legislation introduced by Senator Roberts and passed by the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee today ignores the growing demand from the majority of U.S. citizens to have clear and honest food labeling. Everyone deserves the very basic right of knowing what ingredients are in their food and how that food was produced; that information should not be withheld from the public. Food derived from genetic engineering should be required to be labeled. Enshrining voluntary labeling in this legislation is reiteration of decades of failed policy,” Amalie Lipstreu, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association Policy Program Coordinator. “This legislation would call for the USDA to promote the benefits of agricultural biotechnology. It is not the role of the USDA to advance one form of agriculture above another. Organic agriculture offers benefits to the environment, public health, and local food economies and yet it cannot be advanced above other forms of agriculture by USDA. This bill would create an uneven playing field during a time when public demand for organic and sustainably grown food is at an all-time high. Senators have an opportunity to listen to their constituents and provide them with the food information and choices they want. We hope they soundly reject the Roberts bill and join with the 64 other countries of the world that require mandatory labeling of GE food.”