, a U.S. Senate committee is moving forward on legislation that would prevent states from requiring labels on genetically modified foods. Vermont is set to require such labels beginning July 1, 2016. Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) released draft legislation February 19 that amends the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, blocking the Vermont law and creating new voluntary labels for companies that want to use them on food packages that contain genetically modified ingredients. The Senate panel is scheduled to vote on the bill on February 25.
The bill is similar to the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 that passed the U.S. House in June 2015. The food industry has argued that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are safe and a patchwork of state laws isn’t practical. Labeling advocates have been fighting state-by-state to enact the labeling, with the eventual goal of a national standard.
“This common-sense solution will provide consumers with more information about ingredients in their food and beverage products and prevent a patchwork of confusing and costly state labeling mandates,” said Pamela G. Bailey, Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) president and CEO. “With Vermont’s mandatory labeling going into effect in July and other states considering their own laws, Congress must pass a national food labeling solution that offers farmers, families, and food producers the certainty and access to the affordable and sustainable food supply they deserve.”
So far, Vermont is the only state set to require labeling. Maine and Connecticut have passed similar laws, but those measures don’t take effect unless neighboring states follow suit. Several other states could consider labeling bills this year.
Draft legislation (pdf)