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Soy Growers: GMO Labeling Bill would Provide Clarity with a National Non-GMO Label

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The American Soybean Association (ASA) issued its firm support today for a bill introduced and referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee that would provide for a national labeling standard for non-GMO foods. The bill, brought forward by Reps. Mike Pompeo of Kansas and G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, bypasses a potentially conflicting patchwork of state laws and regulations governing the labeling of GMO and non-GMO foods, as well as multiple private sector non-GMO labeling standards, by establishing one common framework for labeling at the national level. “We have heard loud and clear the message that consumers want to know what’s in their food, and we agree completely that this information should be easily available to them. At the retail level, though, consumers who want to choose non-GMO foods have to contend with an increasingly confused landscape of different labeling schemes with different requirements,” said Wade Cowan, ASA president and West Texas-based farmer. “This bill would end confusion for consumers over which food products do not contain biotech ingredients by establishing a national standard for non-GMO labels. That way, all of the products in the grocery store that don’t contain GMOs will have one simple, easy-to-understand label on them, and the consumer gets the information he or she is looking for.”
In addition to provisions for a national non-GMO label, the bill would also solve the problem created for consumers, farmers and retailers by the inconsistent patchwork of potential state regulations governing the labeling of GMOs.
“The bill also helps to provide consumers with greater clarity by replacing state laws and regulations that can be at odds with one another with a clear and simple national labeling standard,” added Cowan. “We know that labeling at the state level will only disrupt interstate commerce and result in increased costs to consumers since food companies would need to label products to meet potentially 50 different labeling requirements. Moreover, there is near unanimous agreement among members of Congress – including both liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans – that a patchwork of conflicting state labeling laws is unworkable and would only increase consumer costs.”
Cowan also noted that both sides of the GMO debate have more in common than many think, and that ASA is working to highlight them, rather than focus on the small number of areas that divide the two camps.
“We’ve been a part of the debate over biotechnology and GMOs for almost 20 years now, and what we’ve found is that the science on the safety of this technology is solid and unanimous. We’ve also found, however, that consumers just want to know more about what they’re eating. As consumers ourselves, we agree wholeheartedly, and think that a simple, clear label for products that don’t contain GMOs is the way to provide shoppers the clarity and information they demand.”

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