(UPDATED COVERAGE, April 10) Drawing support from major agricultural groups but pointed opposition from environmental groups, legislation that would prevent states from enacting mandatory labeling of genetically modified food has been introduced in the House of Representatives.
Reps. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., and G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., introduced H.R. 4432, called The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act on April 9.
“This legislation is vital to giving America’s farmers certainty about what the rules of the game will be when it comes to labeling foods containing GMOs, an issue that cries out for a national solution,” Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, said in a news release.
“A 50-state patchwork of different labeling laws and regulations would not only burden farmers and food producers but would cause significant confusion among consumers at grocery stores across the country.”On the other side of the debate, the Brattleboro, Vt.-based Organic Trade Association asked members to oppose the bill, saying in a e-mail that the legislation is “fatally flawed” and denies consumers the right to know about genetically modified foods.
The bill would set a new, voluntary federal framework allowing food manufacturers to label products made without GMO ingredients and would put in place a mandatory review by the Food and Drug Administration of the safety of new GMO foods entering the marketplace. The bill would also establish new guidelines for the use of the word “natural” on food labels.
The legislation is merely an attempt to block mandatory labeling bills and ballot initiatives in 30 states, Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement on the group’s website. Two states have already passed labeling regulations for genetically modified foods, and Faber said nearly 1.4 million Americans signed a petition urging the FDA to require labeling of GE food.
Conner said GMO crops will be important to meet future world food needs.