There is growing recognition of the urgent need for Congressional action this year to set a national voluntary food labeling standard. The House Agriculture Committee held an important hearing on March 24 on the benefits of biotechnology and the costs, confusion and challenges of a patchwork of different state labeling mandates. The next day, U.S. Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and G. K. Butterfield (D-NC) introduced the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. Their bill, which has broad support including eight Democratic cosponsors, would protect American consumers, farmers and food manufacturers by creating a national, science-based food labeling standard; ensure the U.S. Food and Drug Administration remains the preeminent authority on food labeling and safety in the United States and establish consistent rules for foods carrying a GMO-Free label through a national certification program. Here’s what people are saying about this critically important issue and this bill.
“When it comes to food labeling, state by state standards do not work. This bill seeks to end the guessing game and provide folks the peace of mind that labels are accurate. Safe and accurate labeling is something that we should all be able to rally around with broad bipartisan support.” – U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI)
“We took the positive feedback we received after our hearing in December and have been meeting with key stakeholders to ensure this is the right policy for both producers and consumers. Our goal for this legislation remains to provide clarity and transparency in food labeling, support innovation, and keep food affordable.” – Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS)
“The potential for a 50 state patchwork of varying labeling standards would increase costs for producers and translate into higher prices for consumers to the tune of more than $500 per year for the average family. This bill will provide clear rules for producers and certainty for consumers at the grocery store checkout lane.” – Representative G. K. Butterfield (D-NC)
“Agricultural retailers are optimistic the broad support of this bipartisan proposal will lead to quick passage of the bill, and we applaud the leadership of Reps. Pompeo and Butterfield. A patchwork of labeling laws would be untenable for farmers and food companies, and result in less clarity for consumers.” – Agricultural Retailers Association President & CEO Daren Coppock
“This bill would end confusion for consumers over which food products do not contain biotech ingredients by establishing a national standard for non-GMO labels.” – American Soybean Association President Wade Cowan
“This legislation provides a common-sense solution for American consumers looking for additional information about the food they buy, while providing certainty to the farmers who produce it. We urge Congress to support it.” – National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling
“As we examine the costs and impacts if states like Vermont move forward with mandatory labelling schemes, I think we will all agree that Congressional action to preserve interstate commerce through national uniformity is necessary.” – U.S. House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX)
“To be clear, the hardest hit by [state labeling mandates] will be the small, family-owned companies with just one plant or just a single line of production. Quite frankly, these costs could put some companies out of business and thereby increase consolidation in the industry by reducing the players to a few multi-category, multi-national players that can better take on the added cost of sourcing and segregating GMO and non-GMO crops. All of these changes will add final product costs to the consumer.” – Snack Food Association President and CEO Tom Dempsey
“The agriculture industry is facing increased scrutiny for its use of biotechnology—a technology that has enabled farmers to increase yields while reducing the use of land, pesticides, fertilizers, water, and even fuel. I am proud of how far American farmers have come.” – Joanna Lidback, owner of The Farm at Wheeler Mountain (Westmore, VT)
“I strongly urge Congress to enact a common-sense law that will provide farmers and consumers with the clarity and certainty needed for meaningful, voluntary food labeling.” – Land O’Lakes, Inc. President and CEO Chris Policinski
The Associated Press reported: “Inspired by the popular ‘USDA organic’ label, House Republicans are proposing a new government certification for foods free of genetically modified ingredients.”
POLITICO reported that among the 17 co-sponsors of Representative Mike Pompeo’s new GMO labeling bill are eight Democrats: G.K. Butterfield, David Scott, Brad Ashford, Ann Kirkpatrick, Alma Adams, Stacey Plaskett, Kurt Schrader and Alcee Hastings.
The Des Moines Register reported that “Pompeo said he is confident a companion bill will be introduced in the Senate soon. He said he is optimistic the legislation can be passed in Congress and sent to the White House this year. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-IA., said earlier this week he would back the Pompeo bill. ‘I think if the Pompeo bill passed the House it would have a good chance passing the Senate.’”
These developments clearly demonstrate significant momentum behind the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act.
The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food will continue to advocate for the swift passage of this critical legislation.
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.