Proposed bill aims to create a unified, science-based approach to address the issue.
Legislation was introduced Wednesday to establish a federal voluntary labeling standard for food and beverage products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) led the introduction of the bill, which was co-sponsored by Rep. G.K. Butterfield, (D-N.C.).
The proposed bill has been dubbed the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. If passed into law it would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority over the labeling of GMO food and beverage ingredients.
"FDA would establish federal standards for companies that want to voluntarily label their products," says Martin Barbre, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). "If they want to voluntarily label for the presence or non-presence of GMO ingredients that way then consumers will clearly understand their choices in the marketplace,"
The bill has the support of the NCGA, American Soybean Association (ASA) and the National Association of Wheat Growers.
An ASA-issued press release notes that "The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act would ... 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 a patchwork of conflicting requirements."
In 2013, at least 26 states proposed legislation that would require food products made from genetically modified crops to be labeled.
The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food (CFSAF), made up of 29 organizations including many farm commodity groups, is urging Congress to develop a uniform, federal set of voluntary standards to address the food labeling issue.
Pompeo says he expects hearings on the bill sometime this summer.
Along with Pompeo and Butterfield, the proposed bill has support from Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.).
More information about GMOs and the need for a federal labeling standard is available at www.CFSAF.org.