(Washington, D.C) – Four leaders from America’s agricultural and food industries stressed the urgent need for an agreement today on a national GMO labeling standard as Democrat and Republican Senate leaders work to find a bipartisan compromise.
“This is the most important issue currently facing America’s food producing community and one that could do significant harm to our nation’s entire food supply value chain,” said Charles F. Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and co-chair of the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, which conducted the media conference call.
Agriculture-related industries contribute over $800 billion to the U.S. economy annually, while food manufacturing accounts for 14 percent of all U.S. manufacturing jobs and the agricultural industry accounts for nearly one in ten of all jobs in the U.S. There is broad bipartisan agreement in Congress that Vermont’s law will create significant turmoil for this sector of the nation’s economy, providing substantial incentive to act before the clock runs out
The stakes could not be higher if Congress failed to pass a national GMO labeling bill before a Vermont mandatory on-package labeling requirement goes into effect July 1.
“Markets for the crops that our farmers are growing today will be lost, and value of farmers’ crops will be diminished,” said Steve Censky, CEO of the American Soybean Association. “Farmers will lose, and ultimately consumers will lose as a safe and valuable tool for sustainable food production is driven from the marketplace by activists who got a state to pass ill-conceived legislation that devastates farmer livelihoods and raises food costs for all Americans.”
“We truly believe the outline of a broad bipartisan compromise is there, now is the time to resolve any remaining differences and get an agreement – today,” said Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
The broad-based coalition of agriculture, food processors, manufacturers and retailers have been working hard on this issue to find a workable solution.
“We support giving consumers more information about their food and beverage products,” Bailey said. “We support a national law and a uniform standard on GMO labeling so consumers everywhere have the same labeling standards instead of a patchwork of different labeling mandates.”
Food companies are already taking steps to provide consumers with much more ingredient and product information through SmartLabel™, a digital technology solution that can provide consumers more information that could ever fit on a label.
Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute, called for passage of a uniform standard for consumers across the country. “I would stress today that Congress has an incredible opportunity in front of it that’s pro-consumer, pro-business and pro-farmer: They can author a new information era for consumers that meets shoppers wherever they are, with the information they seek,” she said.
Vermont’s law is set to take effect on July 1, but because the House of Representatives must also pass the Senate bill and is out of session the last week of June, there are only seven legislative days left for Congress to act.
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.