U.S. House passes GMO labeling bill

by World Grain Staff
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GMO Labeling
The bill now needs to be signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama.
 
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. —The U.S. House of Representatives on July 14 passed bipartisan legislation that would federally preempt a potential patchwork of differing state laws regarding the labeling of human food and animal feed containing biotechnology-enhanced ingredients with a 306-117 vote. The U.S. Senate passed the bill on July 7 with a 63-30 vote.

The legislation is a bipartisan compromise that was developed on June 23 by the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, a Republican, and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat.

The bill now needs to be signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama.

The legislation would provide certainty by preempting Vermont's mandatory GMO labeling law, which went into effect earlier this month, in favor of a uniform national standard that would provide an efficient mechanism for consumers who wish to know more about food products, including the biotech content of food.  

Easy access to this information will be disclosed on products without forcing other consumers to incur exponential increases in food costs. 

U.S. agricultural groups applauded the passage of the bill.

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) said it appreciates the House's expedited effort to approve the Senate-passed legislation, noting that “a national biotech food labeling solution is needed to avert major supply chain disruptions and inefficiencies in production, storage, transportation, manufacturing and distribution of food and feed that would translate into significant cost increases for consumers.”

Richard Wilkins, president of the American Soybean Association (ASA), said the passage of the bill allows for both consumers and producers to benefit from a uniformed, standardized labeling law across the country. 

“We believe this thoughtfully-crafted compromise provides consumers with the information they need, without stigmatizing a safe and sustainable food technology,” Wilkins said.

Leah Wilkinson, vice-president of legislative, regulatory and state affairs for the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), said, "This decision proves Congress understands the need for a national standard, not a patchwork system, when it comes to those supplying food and animal feed, and those purchasing it. Now we look to President Obama to stay true to his word, and sign this bill into law. We urge the president to act immediately."
 
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