Get to Know GMOs Month to Feature Push for Voluntary Labeling Program

The Senate Agriculture Committee has announced an Oct. 21 hearing on biotechnology, and U.S. farmers soon will begin contacting their senators about legislation related to foods with genetically modified ingredients.

The American Farm Bureau Federation and the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food plan to encourage Senate action on the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives in July. While H.R. 1599 has not been introduced in the Senate yet, negotiations are under way among Senate Agriculture Committee principals.

If enacted, the bill would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority on the use and labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients. It would create a voluntary labeling program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Marketing Service. The AMS also administers the USDA Organic Program.

Earlier this year, AFBF President Bob Stallman asserted that state-led mandatory food labeling incentives “mislead consumers about the safety of genetically modified foods, even though there is no credible evidence linking a food-safety or health risk to the consumption of GM foods.”

Stallman said H.R. 1599 “would protect consumers from confusing and misleading GMO labels and create a national, voluntary labeling standard based on science and common sense.”

Lindsay Reames, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation assistant director of governmental relations, said prompt Senate action on the bill is critical. “The Senate needs to act quickly to preempt GMO labeling laws that go into effect next July—and give certainty to farmers, manufacturers and consumers. Inaction will create a state-by-state patchwork that threatens important production and environmental benefits.”

GMOAnswers.com, a website created by member organizations of the Council for Biotechnology Information to address consumer questions, is observing October as Get to Know GMOs Month.

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