More than 1,100 groups, firms appeal for House passage of GMO bill

By Philip Brasher

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, July 11, 2016 - More than 1,100 organizations and companies are appealing to House leaders to pass legislation that would set national disclosure standards for genetically engineered ingredients.

The House is expected to vote on the Senate-passed bill later this week. Unless the bill is altered, House passage would send it to President Obama for his signature. 

“It is vitally important for the House to call up and pass S. 764, the Senate-passed legislation on biotech disclosure, in order to avoid the economic costs of a patchwork of state laws that will directly impact consumers, farmers, and the entire food value chain,” says a letter to House GOP and Democratic leaders. 

Lets Talk Food

The 1,101 signers include national and state farm groups, food manufacturers, agribusiness companies, farm cooperatives, national and regional grocery chains and numerous small businesses, The numerous companies represented include Archer Daniels Midland Co., Costco, Del Monte Foods, DuPont, General Mills, Hormel Foods, Land O' Lakes Inc., Monsanto Co., Nestle USA, PepsiCo Inc., The Kraft Heinz Co., Unilever and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. 

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The letter, organized by the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food, goes on, “The U.S. agriculture and food industry creates over 17 million jobs, representing nearly 1 in 10 jobs. This very system-which produces the most abundant, the highest quality, and the most affordable food in the world-will be threatened with large economic costs without a national uniform solution on this issue. 

A similar letter was sent to senators before the Senate approved the legislation 63-30 last week. 

Some 79 groups that are opposed to the legislation, led by the Center for Food Safety and Food and Water Watch, also sent a letter to House members on Monday detailing their objections to the bill. 

“The process that created this legislation has been profoundly undemocratic and a violation of basic legislative practice. The bill addresses a critical issue for the American public, yet it was neither subject to a single hearing nor any testimony whatsoever,” the letter says.

The groups go on to say that the legislation is “actually a non-labeling bill under the guise of a mandatory labeling bill. It exempts major portions of current and future GMO foods from labeling; it is on its face discriminatory against low income, rural and elderly populations; it is a gross violation of the sovereignty of numerous states around the nation; and it provides no enforcement against those who violate the law. “ 

The legislation would give companies the option of disclosing GMO ingredients through a smartphone, QR code rather than through on-package text, such as “produced with genetic engineering,” that a new Vermont law requires.  

Other groups that signed the letter included the National Family Farm Coalition, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Organic Consumers Association, the Rodale Institute, Sierra Club and Slow Food USA.

The House Rules Committee will meet Tuesday afternoon to approve a rule for debating the legislation.

(Updated at 3 p.m. with opposition letter.)


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