WASHINGTON, Aug. 12, 2015— The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food (CFSAF) is releasing advertisements in Minnesota and Kansas to encourage support for a bill that would bar states from enacting mandatory GMO labeling laws.
The television and radio ads, which praise Reps. Mike Pompeo, R-Kans., and Collin Peterson, D-Minn., will begin airing this week and run for two weeks in regions coinciding with the lawmakers’ districts, according to CFSAF. The coalition represents various aspects of the food and agricultural sectors including the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
Pompeo sponsored the bill, known as the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which passed the House in June with a vote of 275-150. Peterson was one of forty-five House Democrats who voted for the bill on final passage.
Supporters say the bill would prevent a “patchwork” of state labeling laws that would drive up consumer cost.
The bill, which would set up a USDA certification program for non-GMO food products, also requires the Food and Drug Administration to define the use of the word “natural” on food labels and would leave it to the agency whether to allow genetically engineered ingredients.
The bill is particularly urgent for the food and agriculture sectors because a Vermont labeling law is set to take effect next year. Similar laws have passed in Maine and Connecticut, but these include trigger clauses that require neighboring states to also pass mandatory GMO label rules.
“Across the country misguided politicians have threatened polices that could hurt our environment, close family farms, and increase food prices by $500 per family,” states the ad praising Pompeo. “But Congressman Mike Pompeo is fighting for a solution that would keep food costs down, help farmers, and protect our environment. Call Congressmen Pompeo and tell him to keep fighting for the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. It’s the right thing for Kansas and our country.”
The coalition is also considering ads in other states and “exploring ways to express our thanks to members who were important to the successful passage,” said CFSAF spokesperson Claire Parker.
Significant Democratic support will be needed in the Senate to get the 60 votes necessary to break a potential filibuster there. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., is expected to introduce a companion measure but has yet to announce a Democrat who is willing to co-sponsor it.
The Senate Agriculture Committee is expected to hold a hearing after the August recess.
Minnesota and Kansas are key states in the fight for support of the bill. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., sits on the Agriculture Committee, as well as Kansas Republican Pat Roberts, who chairs the panel, and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., serves as chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on agriculture.
Opponents of the bill, including the Environmental Working Group and Center for Food Safety, have dubbed Pompeo’s bill the DARK Act, for "Denying Americans the Right to Know,” and say it prevents consumers from knowing whether they’re buying foods that have genetically engineered ingredients
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