The American Soybean Association (ASA), National Corn Growers Association and American Farm Bureau Federation quickly announced their individual support of new federal legislation introduced Wednesday to establish a federal voluntary labeling standard for foods made with genetically modified (GM) crops. Several other farm organizations have followed suit.
The Safe and accurate Food Labeling Act (H.R. 4432) is aimed at overriding bills in debate or recently passed in about two dozen states that would require foods possibly containing GM crops to be labeled as such and reinstates federal control over food labeling.
National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre, a farmer from Carmi, Ill., said, “The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act provides certainty for both consumers and farmers alike by creating a unified, science-based approach to labeling and eliminating potential risks and costs posed by an expensive patchwork of labeling laws,”
“This bill is a commonsense, science-based approach to an issue we realize is close to the hearts and minds of so many consumers,” said Iowa farmer and ASA President Ray Gaesser. “Americans want to know that their food is safe, and the solutions proposed in this bill will ensure that they have that information.”
AFBF President Bob Stallman said, “The GMO labeling ballot initiatives and legislative efforts that many state lawmakers and voters are facing are geared toward making people wrongly fear what they’re eating and feeding their children. They undermine the public’s understanding of the many benefits of biotechnology in feeding a growing population—and keeping costs down. With the introduction of this legislation and the leadership of the bill’s sponsors, Farm Bureau looks forward to a national-level discussion that will affirm FDA’s role in assuring consumers about GMO safety and reduce the confusion that would result from a patchwork of state labeling initiatives.”
The ASA in its news release explained the bill’s content quite concisely. “The act would direct FDA to provide guidance for companies that wish to label their products for the presence or absence of GMOs; make mandatory an FDA safety review of all new GMO traits before they are brought to market and enable FDA to mandate labels on any product shown to pose a health, safety or nutrition risk; and directs FDA to define the term “natural” for use on food labels. Additionally, the bill would eliminate a large potential source of confusion among consumers by establishing FDA’s labeling guidance as the national standard and preventing states from enacting conflicting requirements.”
Gaesser said, “It will allow companies to voluntarily label foods as non-GMO and enable those consumers who wish to purchase non-GMO foods to do so. Importantly, however, it won't force consumers to pay more for food just because some interests want to require mandatory labeling of safe and healthy foods made with GMOs."