On Thursday (July 14), the House easily passed legislation on GMO-labeling for food on a 306 to 117 vote. The bill would have the USDA create federal labeling standards that would override any statutes passed by individual states. To identify GMO ingredients, food manufacturers will be able to use labeling text, specially-designed symbols or a QR code that can be scanned with a Smartphone.
The bill now awaits President Obama’s signature, which is expected despite some displeasure in the Democratic Party.
Critics of the legislation say it is not only anti-consumer but allows tougher state labeling statutes to be overridden. Democrats slammed the measure, calling it anti-consumer.
Agriculture groups were happy with the outcome. Among those commenting following the vote:
- National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.
“This bill will ensure that there will be no 50 state patchwork of labeling laws. It will give grocery shoppers access to more information than ever before about how the food that they purchase was produced. And it will provide producers and their co-ops with certainty as they make marketing decisions for the current crop and as they look forward to making planting decisions for next year’s."
- The National Corn Growers Association.
"Today, our representatives in the House built upon last week's work in the Senate, taking another important step toward bringing consistency to the marketplace,' said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Maryland. "This achievement was made possible as members of the food and agricultural value chain came together as never before to advance a solution that works for farmers, food companies and, most importantly, consumers.
“America's corn farmers, along with other family farmers across the country, rely on agricultural biotechnology to meet the demand of an ever-growing global population, while reducing their impact on the environment. The bill passed today ensures that mandatory, on-pack labels do not place an unwarranted stigma on safe, proven technology.”
- The American Farm Bureau Federation.
“Today’s House passage of GMO disclosure legislation means we now begin the work of putting in place a uniform, national labeling system that will provide balanced, accurate information to consumers,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Genetically engineered crops have a decades-long track record of safety and benefits for agricultural productivity and our environment. This legislation helps to continue those benefits by avoiding the confusion of differing and potentially misleading labeling standards from state to state. The next stop is the president’s desk. We are pleased that Congress has moved quickly to finish the job.”
- American Feed Industry Association.
"The American Feed Industry Association thanks the House of Representatives for its quick and positive response to the Senate amendment to the House amendment to S. 764 (the Roberts-Stabenow agreement),” said Leah Wilkinson, Vice President of Legislative, Regulatory and State Affairs. “Today's passage of this legislation, 306 to 117, marks a monumental win for all -- industry and consumers -- in the discussion on food labeling. The passage also serves as affirmation by Congress, GE food products -- brought to market for the last 20 years -- are equally as safe and nutritious as their counterparts.
"AFIA is pleased the confusion surrounding animal food products will be minimized by requiring disclosure for human food only. Products derived from animals fed GE ingredients are also not required to display a label. State preemption in the bill does apply to all food -- the term 'food' being all encompassing (human and animal) by federal definition -- thereby ensuring one national standard.”
- The National Grain and Feed Association.
"This legislation preempts the Vermont law and averts further delay and uncertainty," said NGFA President Randy Gordon. "The supply chain that provides the safest, most abundant and affordable food supply the world has ever seen needs certainty on this issue, which makes it vitally important to enact a solution as quickly as possible that does not misinform consumers or denigrate crop technology and innovations that time and time again have been scientifically proven to be safe for consumers and the environment.”
- The American Soybean Association.
“The passage of this bill allows for both consumers and producers to move on from this fight, and benefit from a uniformed, standardized labeling law across the country,” said ASA President Richard Wilkins, a soybean farmer from Greenwood, Del. “We believe this thoughtfully-crafted compromise provides consumers with the information they need, without stigmatizing a safe and sustainable food technology. … Its enactment will stop a potential patchwork of state labeling and providing farmers, producers, manufacturers and consumers peace of mind as they continue to enjoy America’s safe and affordable foods.”