WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 2016 -- The markup scheduled for Thursday for Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts’ voluntary biotech labeling bill has been postponed until sometime next week.
The official statement on the committee’s website attributes the postponement simply to “changes on the Senate floor." A spokeswoman later said Roberts postponed the markup at the request of Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the committee's ranking member, because her bill providing assistance in Flint, Michigan's water crisis is headed to the Senate floor on Thursday."The chairman remains ready to proceed to the markup with his draft," she said.
“This chairman's Mark serves as a framework to find a solution for a patchwork of laws, and I will continue to work with members of the Agriculture Committee on potential amendments,” Roberts said in a statement. “However, we are out of time. The time to act is now. Negotiations will continue in an effort to reach Committee agreement.”
Stabenow may still be opposed to the bill that would preempt state labeling laws, but a vast array of farm groups are anxious for the legislation to move as July 1 approaches. That’s when Vermont’s mandatory labeling law for products containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, is set to go into effect.
“The issue of biotech labeling is one of the most significant issues that the agriculture and food industry has faced in recent years,” a coalition of more than 650 agricultural groups and companies said in a recent letter to Roberts. “This very system—which produces the most abundant, the highest quality, and the most affordable food supply in the world—will be threatened with large economic costs without a national uniform solution to the biotech labeling issue.”