The Grocery Manufacturers Association commended the Senate Agriculture Committee for its approval of legislation by Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Tuesday, that would block individual states such as Vermont from mandating GMO labeling, and establish a voluntary federal system for labeling GM foods.
“We thank Senator Roberts for his leadership to find a common-sense solution that now goes to the full Senate with bipartisan momentum,” said GMA president and CEO Pam Bailey, in a statement. “It is critically important that the full Senate pass this legislation as quickly as possible and for the bill to be voted on by the House. Vermont’s mandatory labeling law goes into effect on July 1, and this law could increase food costs for families across the nation by an average of $1,050 a year.”
Roberts' legislation advanced on a committee vote of 14-6 and now goes to the Senate floor. A similar version was passed by the House last year. It is referred to by its opponents as the Deny Americans the Right to Know Act, while proponents call it The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act.
The American Frozen Food Institute is likewise pleased with Tuesday's development.
“AFFI applauds the Senate Agriculture Committee for approving legislation to create a federal program for the labeling of foods containing genetically enhanced ingredients,” said interim president Joseph Clayton, in a statement. “Advancing this legislation, with bipartisan support, is an important milestone in this critical fight for frozen food and beverage makers and American consumers.
“We urge the Senate to swiftly consider this legislation in order to avoid state-based labeling rules that would increase, rather than reduce, consumer confusion and food prices.”
Among the supporters of Vermont's law is Gary Hirshberg, chairman of the Just Label It Campaign, which advocates consumers’ right to know what’s in their food.
Hirshberg denounced Roberts' bill, which he deems anti-consumer, saying, “Not only would Sen. Roberts’ version of the DARK Act block states from labeling GMOs, it would also make it more difficult for companies like Campbell’s to voluntarily disclose the presence of GMOs. Just Label It calls on the Senate to reject the DARK Act and instead urges Senators to support proposals that give consumers the right to know what’s in their food – a right already held by consumers in 64 nations. I applaud Senator Debbie Stabenow and other Democrats for standing with consumers and voting against the DARK Act.
"We remain hopeful that the Senate will craft a solution that works for both consumers and the food industry. Consumers want the right to know what’s in their food."
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