March, 25 2015

Coalition for Safe Affordable Food Hails Introduction of Federal Food Labeling Legislation

              Urges Passage of Bill to Eliminate Consumer Confusion and Advance Food Safety

(Washington, D.C.)—The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food today praised the introduction of bipartisan legislation to set a federal uniform labeling standard for food and beverage products made with genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) and called on Congress to adopt the critically important bill this year.

The legislation was introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-KS, and Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-NC. The bill will reaffirm the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the nation’s sole authority on food safety and labeling requirements, a far better alternative to a costly, complicated and confusing patchwork of state-by-state labeling laws.

“The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, made up of more than 90 food and agricultural associations, strongly supports this legislation, and we are calling on the House and Senate to take action this year to pass this national standard for science-based food labeling,” said Claire Parker, a spokesperson for the Coalition.

“Introduction of this legislation is a first step towards passage of a federal law to keep the authority to set safe, reasonable and national labeling requirements regarding GMOs with U.S. government agencies that have decades of scientific and regulatory expertise in this area,” Parker added. “The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food thanks Representative Pompeo and his co-sponsors for their leadership on this bill, and our members are grateful that key committee leaders in the House and Senate understand the importance of passage of this legislation.”

The proposed legislation also would improve clarity in foods carrying a GMO-free label and provide uniform rules by creating a national certification program for foods that have been produced without bioengineering. Currently, tens of thousands of products carry a label indicating it was not made with bioengineered ingredients, but many of these labels are being used despite the fact there may not a GMO counterpart in that plant or animal. For that reason, the absence of a federal definition for non-GMO can be misleading and promote consumer confusion because there are no clear guidelines on the proper use of the term.

Support within the food and agriculture community for this vital federal legislation is growing. The Safe Affordable Food Coalition represents all facets of the food and agriculture industries, from producers to food manufacturers and was formed to call for a federal labeling standard for food and beverage products made with genetically modified ingredients. In just over a year since its inception, the Coalition has tripled in size to more than 90 food and agriculture groups from across the country.

America’s farmers rely on proven genetic engineering technology to protect crops from insects, weeds and drought, and this technology has been used for the past 20 years. Today, 70-80 percent of the foods people eat in the United States contain ingredients that have been genetically modified.
The Food and Drug Administration and major scientific and health organizations such as the American Medical Association, National Academy of Sciences and World Health Organization all have found GMOs are safe for humans. More than 2,000 studies show a clear consensus among the world’s leading scientific organizations that GMO ingredients are safe.

A patchwork approach of state and local food laws with different labeling mandates and requirements across the country will generate confusion, create significant new costs for Americans, and cause critical problems for our nation’s grocery supply chain.

  • Higher Costs to Consumers – Having a series of different and conflicting state and local GMO labeling mandates will increase grocery prices for consumers by hundreds of dollars per year. Grocery costs for a family could increase by an average of $500 per year under GMO labeling mandates, according to a Cornell University study.
  • Confusing and Contradictory – The various state labeling mandates mislead – not inform – consumers. For example, in Vermont, vegetable soup can be labeled “GE” while vegetable beef soup is exempt because it contains meat. Otherwise, the ingredients are the same.
  • Crippling to Interstate Commerce – A myriad of different and conflicting state and local labeling laws will force companies to construct multiple supply streams, design new labels, acquire new warehouse space and create new transportation routes. These costly changes could put a number of family-owned companies out of business.

The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food is dedicated to providing policy makers, media, consumers and all stakeholders with the facts about ingredients grown through GM technology. We are also an advocate for common sense policy solutions that will only further enhance the safety of the GM crops and protect the vital role they play in today’s modern global food supply chain. The coalition is comprised of American farmers and representatives from a diverse group of industry and non-governmental organizations.

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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