Traditionally, members of Congress have been hesitant to block state GMO labeling laws. But now that Vermont's labeling law is set for implementation, there’s been a new push for legislation at the federal level. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is supporting a bill that would prevent state GMO labeling laws—a bill that's set to move in House, according to Agri-Pulse.
During an appearance before the Grocery Manufacturers Assocation this week, Vilsack told the group his department “stands ready to provide appropriate technical assistance should it be needed by Congress in crafting any legislation designed to respect the consumer's right to know, to convey accurate information about a product’s safety, and to provide the market a clear and consistent understanding of what is required.”
Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, proposed the legislation that would usurp state GMO labeling laws. The law is meant to oppose the mandatory labeling laws that have been passed in Maine, Vermont, and Connecticut, as well as the more than 70 bills that have been proposed in over 30 states. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act provides for voluntary certification and would allow companies to advertise if they’re GMO-free, while at the same time overriding mandatory state labeling laws.
The bill is first set for a hearing, then it will go to subcommittee and full committee markup in the House this summer. Thus far, the bill has 30 cosponsors, nine of which are Democrats.
“We’re delighted with Chairman Upton’s commitment and the unprecedented momentum behind this legislation, which reflects the urgent need to enact a uniform national labeling solution and the perils of a state-by-state patchwork of labeling regulations,” said Claire Parker, spokeswoman for the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food, a group backed by food and agriculture interests, reports Agri-Pulse.
GMO labeling advocates have fought against the bill because of concerns it will prevent transparency within the food industry.
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“[I]t would allow corporations that make and use GMOs to continue to keep quiet about them, and it would keep the rest of us in the dark (in fact, some of our allies are calling this the DARK, or the Denying Americans the Right to Know, Act),” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch said in a statement. “States that have already passed GMO labeling laws could be prevented from implementing their laws to require labels.”
As of right now, no bill has been introduced in the Senate.
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