Senate Passes GM Labeling Law, Moves to House

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Late yesterday (July 7), the U.S. Senate voted 63-30 to pass the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, which now goes to the House. Led by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the law preempts individual state laws to require labeling of foods containing genetically engineered ingredients.

“Our representatives in the Senate took an important step toward bringing consistency to the marketplace,” says Chip Bowling, a farmer from Maryland and NCGA president. “The Roberts-Stabenow agreement ensures consumers have the access to product information they deserve without stigmatizing this safe, proven technology that America’s farmers value.”

The bill requires mandatory disclosure with several options. Some of these options include text on a package, a symbol or a link to a website using a QR code or similar technology.

“The legislation is a common sense, practical solution to prevent the consequences of a costly and confusing patchwork of state food-labeling laws, like we’ve already seen set into motion in Vermont,” says Andy LaVigne, American Seed Trade Association president and CEO.

While many agricultural groups are pleased with the bill’s progress, one group says it doesn’t go far enough.

“Food Policy Action recognizes the significance of this compromise proposal and applauds Senator Stabenow’s leadership and strong bipartisan efforts to move the dial forward for consumer transparency in our food system,” according to a news release from the group. “This bipartisan compromise, while far from perfect, takes steps toward transparency for the consumer around GMOs in food products and strengthens organic labeling protections. Unfortunately, this bill falls short of a mandatory on-pack national disclosure standard, and ultimately Food Policy Action alerted Congress that it would negatively score votes on the bill.”

Established in 2012, Food Policy Action is a 501 (c)(4) group of food policy leaders whose mission is to hold legislators accountable for their votes on a broad range of food policy issues through the publication of the National Food Policy Scorecard.

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