GMO-Labeling Bill Is Now Headed to the White House

GMO-Labeling Bill Is Now Headed to the White House

July 15, 2016

Nashville, TN

UPDATE: The House of Representatives passed the GMO-labeling bill last Thursday with a strong bipartisan vote of 306 to 117. The bill, S. 764, is now awaiting a signature of approval from President Obama. The White House administration indicated before the vote that the President will approve the bill.

“While there is broad consensus that foods from genetically engineered crops are safe, we appreciate the bipartisan effort to address consumers’ interest in knowing more about their food, including whether it includes ingredients from genetically engineered crops,” a White House spokesperson said

The ultimate purpose of S. 764 is to provide an across-the-board standard for labeling genetically modified food in the U.S. If the bill is approved,  it will negate recently passed legislation in Vermont that requires labeling on all foods containing genetically modified ingredients. 

Agricultural associations such as the American Soybean Association (ASA) and the National Corn Growers Association have already felt the impact of the Vermont bill that became effective on July 1st. 

ASA President Richard Wilkins issued a statement urging the President to approve the Roberts-Stabenow bill.

"We appreciate the support from House leaders to get us to this point," Wilkins said. "ASA and its state and regional affiliates now encourage President Obama to sign this bill into law. Its enactment will stop a potential patchwork of state labeling and providing farmers, producers, manufacturers and consumers peace of mind as they continue to enjoy America’s safe and affordable foods.”

National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling echoed Wilkins' sentiment in a recent press release.

"S. 764 ensures consumers have the access to product information without stigmatizing this safe, proven technology that America’s farmers value," Bowling said. "Now that both houses of Congress have come together to address this important issue, we ask that the President take the final step by signing this legislation into law."

Not sure what S. 764 means for producers as well as consumers? Here’s a quick breakdown:

Who drafted the bill?

Last March, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts put a bill before Congress that attempted to end the GMO debate by making it optional for companies to put GMO-labeling on their food. The bill was rejected in the Senate. 

In an attempt to compromise in order to settle the ongoing debate, Roberts partnered with Democrat and ranking Senate member, Debbie Stabenow, on June 23rd to create S. 764. 

What does it mean for us?

The bill essentially mandates GMO-labeling nationwide but gives producers three different options on how they can label their products. Food makers can simply use on-package language, as was required by the Vermont bill, or they can use a USDA crafted symbol or code that will notify consumers on the food’s GMO status. 

The bill also prohibits a food “derived from an animal to be considered a bioengineered food solely because the animal consumed feed produced from, containing, or consisting of a bioengineered substance.” This clarification would take a lot of poultry and meat items off of the GMO list. 

You can read S. 764 in full, here

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