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Senators announce GMO compromise

Senators announce GMO compromise

Roberts, Stabenow release joint statement

U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, today announced they have reached a bipartisan agreement on GMO labeling.

The agreement requires mandatory, nationwide labeling for food products containing GMOs.

“This bipartisan bill is a win for consumers and families,” Stabenow said. “For the first time ever, consumers will have a national, mandatory label for food products that contain genetically modified ingredients.

Stabenow, Roberts reach compromise on GMO labeling. (Photo: darksite/Thinkstock)

“This proposal is also a win for our nation’s farmers and food producers,” Stabenow continued. “Throughout this process I worked to ensure that any agreement would recognize the scientific consensus that biotechnology is safe, while also making sure consumers have the right to know what is in their food. I also wanted a bill that prevents a confusing patchwork of 50 different rules in each state. This bill achieved all of those goals, and most importantly recognizes that consumers want more information about the foods they buy.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation expressed disappointment with the agreement and said it will review the impact of the legislation.

“There are no – and never have been any– documented health risks from genetically engineered food in the marketplace,” said AFBF president Zippy Duvall. “The American Farm Bureau Federation continues to oppose mandatory food labels that are not necessary for health or safety reasons. We also oppose a patchwork of state-by-state labeling rules. We are reviewing this legislative proposal, and over the next few days will determine how it fits with our policy. We will also assess its impact on farmers' abilities to use modern agricultural technology to produce more, high-quality food.”

The agreement establishes a national, mandatory system of disclosure for food that contains GMO ingredients. The agreement also closes glaring loopholes under the Vermont law which would have allowed tens of thousands of processed food products, like frozen dinners or entrees that contain meat and GMO ingredients, to go unlabeled. Under the law in Vermont, for example, a cheese pizza could be labeled but a pepperoni pizza could not, even if it contained a GMO ingredient.

“This bipartisan agreement is an important path forward that represents a true compromise. Since time is of the essence, we urge our colleagues to move swiftly to support this bill,” Roberts and Stabenow said in a joint statement.

The bill comes too late to be enacted before the Vermont law goes into effect July 1 as the House is on recess until July 5. The House passed its version of the labeling law last July, but that version failed in the Senate. The compromise approved the Senate Agriculture Committee leaders must be acted upon by the full Senate before proceeding to the House for a vote.

Related articles:

Senators reach deal on GMO labeling – ABC News – Law is more lenient that Vermont’s law, allowing food companies to use a text label, a symbol or electronic label.

Senate reaches bipartisan deal on food labels – McClatchyDC - Bill prohibits ag secretary from designating meats at GMO because the animal may have eaten genetically engineered feed.

DARK Act compromise could preempt Vermont’s GMO label law – EcoWatch – Agreement fails to provide any meaningful federal labeling requirement.

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