June, 13 2016

Ohio groups make last push for a national food labeling law

Ohio Groups Make Last Push For A National Food Labeling Law
Ty Higgins
Ohio Ag Net

A deadline is looming for the U.S. Congress to pass a national, uniform food labeling standard before Vermont’s GMO labeling mandate is implemented on July 1. If Congress fails to act before the clock runs out, Ohio’s food and agricultural industry, which supports $105 billion in economic activity, will face tremendous uncertainty.

Agricultural biotechnology may be in jeopardy too. If Congress doesn’t act, these safe, proven technologies Ohio farmers rely on could be driven from the marketplace.

Many Ohio food and agribusiness groups, along with the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, are weighing in on how the Vermont law would impact the Buckeye State, including the Ohio Manufacturers Association (OMA), Shearer’s Foods, Inc., Lancaster Colony Corporation and Axis Seed.

“We have a large food manufacturing sub-sector and Ohio is in the top 10 for food processing and for product manufacturing used in agriculture,” said Ryan Augsburger, Vice President and Managing Director of Public Policy Services for the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association. “Large and small food processing companies with production operations in Ohio employed 60,000 last year.”

Ohio boasts a remarkable concentration of companies that process high quality food and drink supplies and products, including Kraft/Heinz, Nestle, Anheuser-Busch, General Mills, Dean Foods and Cargill.

“The OMA is proud to stand with all of these companies in asking our elected representative in Congress to act promptly to enact a national uniform food labeling standard,” Augsburger said.

The affects will be felt on the consumer level as well, as families in Ohio could see their food bills spike by $1,383 a year.

“If the GMO labeling issue develops on a state-by-state basis we will wind up with nationally distributed products that are subject to conflicting state mandates,” said Matthew Shurte, General Counsel for Lancaster Colony Corporation. “Inevitably that is going to add cost and complexity to producing and distributing our products, which will lead to higher prices and inconsistent information for consumers.”

That is one of the reasons that Shurte, along with others in his industry, believe a national food labeling standard is in everyone’s best interest and that the FDA would be the most qualified agency to develop such a system.

“We are actually at the point where we have customers that do not want to ship to Vermont,” said Mark Schwerdtfeger, VP of Communications and Government Affairs for Shearer’s Foods, Inc. “Our stance is that we are okay with mandatory disclosure with multiple options, like QR codes or 1-800 numbers.”

Read more here.

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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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