WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.— The House of Representatives voted on July 23 to approve the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which will create a consumer-friendly, science-based labeling standard for foods made with genetically modified organisms, as well as for GMO-free foods.

Introduced by Reps. Mike Pompeo, and G.K. Butterfield, a group of 106 Democrats and Republicans have co-sponsored the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. This legislation sets a uniform, common-sense national standard for labeling foods with GMOs and for GMO-free foods said National Corn Growers Association.

“The passage of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act is a significant victory for the freedom of soybean farmers to make the most of the broad range of advances that biotechnology provides for our industry,” said Wade Cowan, American Soybean Association (ASA) president and a soybean farmer from Brownfield, Texas, U.S.

The legislation would require developers of genetically engineered plants to obtain U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety clearance on all new plant varieties before those foods are introduced into commerce; and uphold FDA’s authority to specify special labeling if it finds a health or safety risk is posed by such a variety. It also creates a legal framework governing the use of label claims regarding either the absence or presence of GMOs in a food product and requires FDA to define the term ‘natural’ on food labels.

“We must pass federal legislation this year to avoid realization of the threat of an unworkable patchwork of state GMO labeling mandates which will drive up costs for farmers and consumers alike,” said John Linder, National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team chair, and a farmer from Ohio. “With Vermont’s state labeling law is set to take effect next July, the looming impacts of this situation increase the urgency of the need for Congress to act on a national labeling law.”

It also allows the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to continue working together on food labeling decisions.

“The bipartisan efforts showcased today reflects the support from American consumers and farmers toward a consistent and transparent food label that is founded in science,” said National Association of Wheat Growers President, Brett Blankenship, wheat grower from Washtucna, Washington, U.S. 

“We are glad to see the House of Representatives recognize that genetic engineering is an important tool for American agriculture,” said American Seed Trade Association President & CEO Andrew W. LaVigne. This legislation ensures a uniform approach to food labeling which will provide valuable information to American consumers without unnecessarily increasing grocery store prices.  A potential patchwork of state food labeling regulations would be misleading and costly to comply with and enforce.

“ASTA members have actively engaged their representatives in the House and we encourage prompt Senate action.”