The Senate Agriculture Committee will markup Chairman Pat Roberts GMO labeling bill Thursday. Roberts released a draft of the bill last week that drew applause from many agriculture groups. However, as Politico reports, it’s unclear if Democrats will be able to ignore pressure from pro-labeling groups unhappy with the measure. The Kansas Senator’s bill serves as an abbreviated seven-page draft compared to the 37-page measure by a Kansas Representative, which passed the House last July by a 275-150 vote.
The Senate bill would require USDA to set a voluntary national food labeling standard for genetically engineered foods, preempt state labeling laws on both GMO foods and seed, and require USDA to provide consumers with information on the benefits of biotechnology, according to the draft. Roberts did say he is open to amendments to the bill which he hopes will stop the labeling law in Vermont from going into effect in July of this year.
Farm groups were supportive of the Roberts bill. “The introduction of Roberts’s proposal is an important first step to restoring sanity to America’s food labeling laws,” said National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Maryland. “GMOs are perfectly safe and America’s farmers rely on this proven technology to protect our crops from insects, weeds and drought. Important food safety and labeling decisions should be made by the scientists and qualified policymakers at the FDA, not political activists and campaigns.” “As growers, our primary concern is the ability to continue to produce food in the quantity and of the quality that American consumers demand, and we are acutely aware of consumers’ desire for us to reduce our impact on the environment in the process,” added ASA President Richard Wilkins. “This is the dual promise of bioengineering. It has been proven safe repeatedly for nearly 20 years, and we can’t stand by while a small subset of activists willfully misinterprets and misrepresents bioengineering to advance their agenda.”
Source NAFB News Service