FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Claire Parker
Date: June 18, 2015
House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health Hearing Showcases Vital Need to Pass the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act
(Washington, D.C.) – The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food (CFSAF) today commended members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health for holding a hearing that highlighted the critical importance of enacting a uniform, voluntary food labeling standard and the growing bipartisan momentum behind the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act.
This legislation has quickly attracted broad, bipartisan support from 65 cosponsors, including 12 Democrats.
“This morning’s hearing gave additional affirmation to the necessity for fact-based food labeling legislation,” said CFSAF spokesperson Claire Parker. “Today’s hearing is the latest indication that the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act is gaining momentum and is headed towards passage this year.”
The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, introduced in March by Congressmen Mike Pompeo and G.K. Butterfield, creates a uniform, science-based labeling standard for foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The bill reaffirms the ability for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require labeling of any products it determines to present a health or safety concern. The bill also enhances coordination between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and FDA to ensure that the foremost experts in this country are in agreement on matters of food safety and labeling. Additionally, the bill creates a national GMO-free certification program overseen by the USDA that will give consumers who choose to purchase non-GMO products a transparent and consistent means of doing so.
“It is critical that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture remain the preeminent authorities overseeing food labeling and agricultural production in the United States,” Parker continued. “Otherwise, we will be faced with a confusing patchwork of state mandates that drive food prices up and threaten to put small farms and food producers out of business. Vermont’s labeling mandate is set to take effect next year, meaning food producers will soon be forced to make tough decisions in order to comply with the law—all of which will drive up costs and limit choice for consumers. As laid out in a letter sent this week from the Grocery Manufacturers Association to Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, the impacts of Vermont’s law will be severe, perhaps costing the industry up to $10 million per day. The clock is ticking.”
Today’s hearing featured testimony from a number of witnesses who spoke to the urgent need for the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act and the negative effect of a patchwork of mandatory state labeling laws.
“The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act introduced this Congress by Representatives Mike Pompeo and G. K. Butterfield, would ensure that labeling of biotech ingredients in food products is based on consistent standards using sound science,” testified John Reifsteck, chairman and president of GROWMARK, Inc., a regional agricultural co-op in Bloomington, Illinois. “It would allow those who wish to label their products as GMO-free to do so by utilizing an accredited certification process offered through U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This process would be similar to that of the Department’s successful Certified Organic program.”
“Consumers have a right not only to not be deceived and misled. They also have a right not to be forced to pay more for food so they have more money for health care, education and other needs,” L. Val Giddings, senior fellow at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation testified Thursday. “Compulsory labeling of GMOs would deprive them of these rights.”
Rick Blasgen, president and CEO of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, laid out the extreme complications mandatory labeling will impose on the supply chains of our nation’s food manufacturers and the drastic steps food producers would have to take in order to comply. He stated that “U.S. consumers benefit from the safest and most cost efficient food supply in the world. I urge Congress protect our national food system from an unnecessary patchwork of state labeling schemes that will hurt American employers and do nothing to protect consumers.”
“With so few issues attracting bipartisan support in Congress, it is encouraging that this bill is attracting support from both political parties,” Parker said. “As the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act continues to move towards final passage this year, we look forward to Congress giving American farmers, food manufacturers and consumers the certainty they deserve.”
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.