GM Labeling Vote Set for July 6

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A vote to limit the debate on the Senate agriculture compromise on the labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients is expected Wednesday, July 6, followed by a vote on final passage later in the week.

The floor actions follow a procedural motion made Wednesday, June 29, in which the Senate voted 68 to 29 to move the compromise forward. The agreement, announced by Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), would preempt state and local GM labeling laws, including the Vermont law that goes into effect today (July 1).

“The bipartisan Roberts-Stabenow labeling proposal is a practical solution to prevent a costly and confusing patchwork of state food-labeling laws from being enacted across the nation,” says Andy LaVigne, ASTA president and CEO. “We commend the Senators for their efforts in reaching a common-sense compromise that works for the agriculture industry and consumers alike.

“The agreement will bring much-needed consistency and transparency to the marketplace, and we urge the Senate to pass the proposal as soon as possible.

The National Corn Growers Association agrees. According to the association, the Roberts-Stabenow agreement brings continuity to the marketplace, ensuring that consumers have the access to product information they deserve without stigmatizing a safe, proven technology valued by American farmers.

Chuck Connor, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives president, adds: “The bipartisan vote on a procedural motion to set up consideration of the Roberts-Stabenow biotech labeling agreement is a strong show of support for the package.

“It reflects the support of the food and agriculture community, illustrated by the recent letter in support of the agreement that was signed by over 1,000 farm groups, food manufacturers, farmer co-ops and retailers. We look forward to the Senate acting on the substance of the measure next week when they return from a brief Fourth of July recess. Prompt action by Congress can help head off the consumer confusion and supply chain upheaval that will be caused by Vermont’s mandatory biotech labeling law that goes into effect on Friday.”

The requirements apply to all human food subject to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act labeling requirements as well as some meat and poultry products. Food products not subject to the legislation could not automatically claim non-GM status while USDA-certified organic products could make a non-GM claim.

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