WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — U.S. Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, U.S., has introduced a bill that would make the labeling of genetically modified (GM) ingredients in food and beverage products voluntary. The legislation would also preempt any state efforts, such as the law in Vermont that goes into effect July 1, to pass legislation requiring the mandatory labeling of food or beverage products made with bioengineered ingredients.
Senator Roberts, chairman of the Senate’s committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, has scheduled a meeting on Feb. 25 to consider the legislation and mark it up.
“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.”
Studies show 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 said.
The proposal brings continuity to the marketplace, ensuring that consumers have the access to product information they deserve without stigmatizing this safe, proven technology valued by American farmers, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) said. The bill, which will go through a markup by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, will provide a national framework that places standards in the hands of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and creates a campaign that will educate the public on both the safety of GMOs and on the way in which they can find out more about the foods they purchase, NCGA said.