WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2016 — The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) today commended Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., for his leadership in releasing a proposal that would federally preempt a potential patchwork of differing state laws regarding the labeling of human food and animal feed containing biotechnology-enhanced ingredients.
The NGFA also urged other senators to join Roberts in an expedited effort to introduce and approve a final version of such legislation. “We commend Sen. Roberts and his staff, as well as other members of the Senate Agriculture Committee for the extraordinary efforts they have made in trying to achieve bipartisan consensus on a way forward, but time is of the essence,” said NGFA President Randy Gordon. “We hope the significant step taken today by Sen. Roberts will galvanize congressional efforts to get federal preemption legislation on biotech labeling enacted. The time for action is at hand.”
The sense of urgency is created by the July 1 effective date of Vermont’s mandatory law requiring on-package labels of foods containing ingredients that have been genetically modified. The NGFA said congressional action is needed to avert major supply chain disruptions and inefficiencies in production, storage, transportation, manufacturing and distribution of food and feed that would translate into significant cost increases for consumers.
“We believe that the hearings conducted by both the Senate and House on this issue have demonstrated overwhelmingly the need for a national, uniform solution that does not involve on-package labeling of biotech-enhanced products, which would run the risk of unjustifiably stigmatizing this safe and important technology that enables our nation’s farmers and agribusinesses to competitively and affordably feed a growing population,” Gordon said. “If states create different labeling rules, food and feed manufacturers would be forced to either not serve that market or transfer the heavy costs of compliance to consumers. A national standard also would avoid the potential for labels to have different meanings in different states, which would lead to even greater costs and further confuse consumers.”
The NGFA said the approach taken by Sen. Roberts would provide an efficient mechanism for consumers who wish to know about the biotech content of food to access such information, without forcing other consumers to incur exponential increases in food costs. The Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to hold a business meeting to consider the proposal Feb. 25 at 10 a.m.