U.S. Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) introduced legislation to prevent state-by-state labeling requirements for genetically modified (GM) foods. The draft bill blocks the Vermont GM labeling law, set to go into effect on July 1, and seeks to create a voluntary, national food-labeling standard for foods containing genetically modified ingredients.
The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) supports Roberts’ proposal and urges action from the Senate, requesting the bill be taken up and passed in an expedited manner.
"Although animal food is exempt from Vermont's law, our industry supports a uniform, national labeling standard for products containing genetically modified ingredients," said Leah Wilkinson, AFIA vice president of legislative, regulatory and state affairs. "If Congress implements a national law requiring a uniformed standard like what is contained in this bill, the food industry, animal food industry, farmers and consumers will share equal protection from unnecessary costs and different state mandated labeling requirements."
Aside from asserting that modern agriculture biotechnology is in some way unsafe, the potential for 50 different state-determined labeling requirements would produce an expensive and challenging obstacle for companies. According to AFIA, studies suggest the labeling of GM products will cost American families up to $500 more in groceries annually, with low-income families bearing the brunt of the changes.
"AFIA and the animal food industry welcome this bill with open arms as we seek a solution to this ongoing dilemma," Wilkinson said. “We believe this is a fair resolution for both agriculture and consumers, as it provides consistency in the marketplace. We thank Chairman Roberts for his leadership to find a well-rounded and uniformed approach to national food labeling. Congress, we urge you to act on this opportunity quickly.”
A hearing to review the bill will be held on Thursday, February 25.