Legislation would ban state GMO labeling measures
Written by Editor   
Thursday, April 10, 2014 08:28 AM

A bill introduced Wednesday would put the federal government in charge of overseeing the labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients, preventing states from enacting their own requirements to regulate the controversial ingredients.  The legislation, known as the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, would require the Food and Drug Administration to review the safety of a product before it enters the marketplace, putting into law a process that is currently voluntary but widely used by food companies. The health agency would require mandatory labeling on food with genetically modified ingredients if they are found to be unsafe or materially different from foods produced without biotech ingredients. Manufacturers could still label their foods as being made without these specially engineered crops.

This bill "prevents a mishmash of labeling standards and allows farmers to continue to produce higher yields of healthy crops in smaller spaces with less water and fewer pesticides," said Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., who drafted the measure along with Rep. Mike Pompeo, a Kansas Republican. "If passed, this will be a big win for farmers nationwide."

But consumer groups vowed to fight the legislation, which they see as an attempt to undermine efforts to pass state ballot initiatives mandating labeling of most products with genetically modified ingredients.  In the United States, up to 80% of packaged foods contain ingredients that have been genetically modified, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which represents more than 300 food and beverage companies.

Agricultural and food producers praised the legislation and said it would provide certainty to their members by establishing a uniform set of food labeling guidelines.

Consumer advocacy groups have aggressively pushed the public's right to know what is in food, raised concerns about the potential damage to the environment and questioned the long-term impact of consuming products with biotech crops in them. Other consumer groups said the legislation is a desperate effort to stop the momentum created by more states moving toward requiring labeling. Opponents said the bill's fate was uncertain in the House and unlikely to gain enough support in the Senate.

Source:  http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/04/09/genetic-labeling-bill/7519937/