April, 19 2016

Reformulation Could Impact American Jobs

This morning, Grocery Manufacturers Association President Pamela Bailey gave an important speech, in which she warned of the real, extensive and lasting impacts of reformulation on the American food supply. As POLITICO reported, unless the Senate takes immediate action to stand up for agricultural biotechnology, farmers and food producers face an uncertain future.

Without a uniform, national labeling standard, the growing patchwork of GMO labeling mandates, beginning with Vermont’s law, is driving companies to consider reformulating their products to move away from now-stigmatized GMO ingredients.

The GMO on-package labeling requirement in Vermont is an example of the severe and far-reaching impact non-science based policies have not only on manufacturers but also on farmers and on every family in America.

Bailey made three things very clear:

  1. Vermont’s law has become the de facto national standard. In the aftermath of the Senate’s failure to act on a federal preemption bill, companies have been forced to begin compliance steps to avoid the onerous $1,000 per product, per day fines that will go into effect July 1.
  2. Vermont is just the tip of the iceberg. California has already rejected a Vermont compliant label for a nationally marketed product, and other states are considering similar disapprovals or their own unique GMO labeling mandates. We’re just one state away from total chaos, as companies and consumers will have to juggle an array of conflicting, confusing labeling requirements.
  3. Reformulation is real. Anti-GMO activists will use on-pack labeling to stigmatize biotechnology, just as they did in Europe, where biotech has virtually been driven from the marketplace. There are not enough non-GMO crops grown in the U.S. to meet the demands we will face if all companies are forced to reformulate. Beyond the enormous costs — upwards of $1,000 per year for the average American family — and the confusion that mandatory, patchwork labeling adds to the marketplace, Vermont’s law could very well put the 1.7 million food manufacturing jobs in the U.S. at risk. As Vermont’s law drives companies to reformulate and find ingredients overseas, it could incentivize companies to move manufacturing closer to their ingredient sources.

The crux of Bailey’s remarks culminated in the fact that reformulation will have a real and lasting impact on the American food supply chain. The stakes are high, and the impact of Senate inaction will be devastating to the American farmers, food producers and families that rely on safe, affordable food.

In sum, if you back sound science, support farmers’ continued access to ag biotech, and are concerned about consumer costs, food companies reformulating out of biotech ingredients and food manufacturing jobs moving overseas – action is urgently needed. We must put a stop to the patchwork and protect America’s safe, affordable food supply before it is too late.

The U.S. Senate must pass a bipartisan compromise NOW.

Read POLITICO’s full report here.

About the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food

We are a broad-based coalition representing the entire American agriculture food supply chain – from farm to fork. We are committed to increasing the public’s understanding about the science and safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and advocating for science-based policies that keep food affordable for every American.

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