April, 13 2016

CONFLICTS + CONFUSION FOR COMPANIES

STATE REJECTS VERMONT MANDATORY GMO LABEL
STATES EXPAND PATCHWORK PROBLEM

 Problem

California has the authority to review food labels for specific categories of food and beverages and recently rejected a Vermont compliant label for a nationally marketed product that reads “PARTIALLY PRODUCED WITH GENETIC ENGINEERING”.

With similar State labeling approvals pending in Pennsylvania and Kentucky, regulators could again reject the Vermont label, making compliance virtually impossible and highlighting the immediate need for a federal solution to the misleading Vermont mandate.

California’s regulatory action is just the latest and most concrete example of why a 50 state patchwork of labeling laws for our national food supply is bad policy. Unfortunately, other states are lining up to exacerbate the problem for our national food supply.

  • Companies that have already changed labels to say “partially produced with genetic modification” to comply with Vermont’s law would not be in compliance with Connecticut or New York’s proposed laws, which do not allow for a “partially produced with” label.
  • Any new law will go through rulemaking with whatever agency is tasked with enforcing it, leaving open questions about how it may ultimately differ from Vermont’s requirements.
  • The Massachusetts proposal further disrupts agriculture by altering the very definition of genetic engineering to stigmatize innovations in agricultural science that benefit farmers and consumers.
  • New York and Massachusetts proposals both include vast record keeping requirements for grocery stores not included in other state proposals or the Vermont mandate.
  • One of Rhode Island’s competing proposals would require a misleading warning label on the front and back of packages.

 

Crisis Grows with U.S. Food Manufacturers in an Impossible Situation

California’s rejection of the Vermont label and the prospect of new and different state laws leave U.S. food manufacturers in an impossible situation. Companies will face a $1,000 per product, per day fine if they don’t comply with a misleading warning label. If manufacturers affix the misleading Vermont label to every product sold in the U.S., as labeling activists demand, then states that regulate certain food labels may reject the labels as misleading, which would be aligned with the Food & Drug Administration’s concern about GMO labeling. Moreover, for the countless products bearing Vermont’s mandatory label, compliance is only good until another state enacts yet another mandate. Congress must act now.

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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