Posted July 20, 2014
The House Agriculture Committee has approved a bill that would ban states from requiring the labeling of genetically engineered (GMO) foods, according to an Agri-Pulse article available here. Food Safety News also published an article available hereand Reuters here.
The Safe and Affordable Food Labeling Act (HR 1599), which was approved on a voice vote in a 15-minute meeting, could be on the House floor as early as next week. Opponents of the bill on the committee, led by Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., did not request a roll-call vote.
Companies that wished to tout the fact that their products do not contain GMOs, such as with a “GMO-Free” label, would still be able to do so if the bill passed. That process would operate similarly to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s organic certification, according to Food Safety News.
Maine, Connecticut and Vermont have already passed laws that would require foods containing GMOs to be labeled, and GMO-labeling campaigns are underway in a number of other states.
Groups lobbying for mandatory GMO labeling said they are increasing their efforts to make sure that H.R. 1599, dubbed the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, never becomes law, according to Reuters
“The real fight will be in the Senate,” said Scott Faber, executive director of Just Label It, an advocacy group pushing for mandated labeling. “This is from over.”
They say the bill is objectionable not only because it would overturn state GMO labeling laws, but because it also prevents state and local governments from regulating GMO crops, and would keep the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from creating a mandatory GMO labeling standard.
“Those states like mine, Maine, which has already passed a law that requires GMO labeling… we would be prohibited from doing it,” said U.S. Rep Chellie Pingree, a GMO labeling supporter.
Opponents say mandatory labeling would raise food prices, confuse consumers without cause as GMOs are well regulated and are no less safe or nutritious than foods made with non-GMO ingredients.
As much as 80 percent of packaged foods in grocery stores contains GMO ingredients, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which opposes GMO labeling, according to Food Safety News.
The House is expected to vote on H.R. 1599 later this month.
For more information on biotechnology, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.