The National Milk Producers Federation urged the full Senate to act quickly on legislation that would establish national regulations for the labeling of ingredients and processes used in the food supply.
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The Senate Agriculture Committee approved, by a 14-6 vote, a bill introduced last week by its Chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), that would create a common-sense, national food labeling standard offering consumers information about products that contain ingredients such as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
The legislation would preempt state laws that create labeling mandates for foods with ingredients that have been genetically modified.
Food labeling “is an area where we need a clear federal standard, not a piecemeal approach across the 50 states,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF.
“We’ve learned from experience in the dairy sector that we need a strong federal policy governing labeling claims. Otherwise, we’ll end up with an unworkable series of competing and confusing state policies.
NMPF urged the Senate to expedite passage of Roberts’s measure, in order to prevent confusing marketing environment in the food industry this summer, when Vermont’s new law, requiring labeling of foods containing GMOs, goes into effect on July 1.
The Senate’s approach “will provide information that shoppers want, without requiring that stigmatizing label claims be mandated at the state or federal level,” Mulhern said.
“Any requirement, even at the state level, to use labels to call out GMO ingredients is a de facto scarlet letter being forced on many foods, without warrant. Mandatory GMO labels play into the fear-based marketing we see too frequently in the food industry.”
NMPF and its 31 cooperative members co-signed a letter last Tuesday with more than 600 other farm and food groups urging action on Sen. Roberts’ bill by the Senate. The House of Representatives already passed a version of a national food labeling bill last July. ■
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