Senators push to preempt states from GMO labeling

Senators seek to preempt states from GMO laws

A laundry-list of agricultural groups, including the Food Marketing Institute, American Farm Bureau, and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization are in support of a GMO labeling bill introduced by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

The move is in opposition to a Vermont GMO labeling law that went into effect July 1, but may not be enforced until 2017, according to the Center for Food Integrity, a not-for-profit organization whose members and partners represent farmers, ranchers, food companies, universities, restaurants, retailers, food processors and non-governmental organizations.

Politico reports that the proposed bill is being heavily lobbied for even as Vermont’s law goes into effect, because of the fear that other states could implement their own laws and create an unmanageable patchwork of onerous restrictions.

Meanwhile, Mother Jones is reporting that former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says he will do what he can to stop the measure.

The food retail industry and the American Farm Bureau each came out in support of the Roberts-Stabenow agreement.

In short, the bill would immediately prohibit states or other entities from mandating labels of food or seed that is genetically engineered. It would also establish through rulemaking a uniform national disclosure standard for human food that is or may be bio-engineered, according to Sen. Roberts’ website.

Text of the bill can be found here.

In a statement, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) said it “commends the bipartisan Roberts-Stabenow agreement on biotechnology labeling and hopes that all senators will vote in favor of the compromise. A national standard for GMO labeling is essential if we are to avoid the economic costs incurred by a patchwork of differing state laws.”

“The bill is far from perfect, but it correctly puts the federal government in the driver's seat in important areas such as protecting interstate commerce and new crop development techniques,” said American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “There is no public health or scientific justification for the bill's mandatory disclosure provisions, but the national uniformity established by this bill is paramount.”


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