GMO Labeling Law: The Good And The Bad

President Obama signed S. 764 at the end of July, making mandatory disclosure of bioengineered food the law nationwide and shifting the focus to the rulemaking process. S. 764 is compromise legislation, endorsed by the National Potato Council (NPC), and crafted by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking member Debbie Stabenow.

The legislation establishes federal preemption on food labeling and includes a variety of options for meeting mandatory disclosure including text, symbol, or electronic digital link. Now that the push to pass this legislation has elapsed, NPC has been able to more deeply analyze the good and the bad of this compromise legislation.

The Law’s Benefits
Looking first at the good aspects, the definition of bioengineering as referring to a food “for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature” is one that supports modern agriculture, covers fewer foods, and is considered positive. Broadening the definition to include traditional breeding techniques, gene editing, and hybridization would have been overreach. The benefits of biotech include reduced pesticide use, better water usage, and increased ability to address malnutrition.

The establishment of federal preemption means a patchwork of 50 state laws has successfully been avoided. Under that scenario, many consumers would have been confused about what the differences were by state and whether their state mandated something different.

The nationwide law also helps prevent increased food costs, which were likely under the state-by-state plans. A recent directive from USDA to governors to acknowledge the new law and not pursue further state-based laws also is a positive step.

Labeling Concerns
In the negatives column, there should be serious concern over labeling a food product when there is no connection to a food safety or human health issue. NPC has consistently called for labeling only when there is a proven safety or health issue.

The fact the law is now regulating production techniques that have not exhibited either of these concerns raises alarm and could have chilling effects on biotech. Big unknowns also exist because there are several fruits and vegetables, which are genetically engineered and were not previously required to be labeled and now will certainly fall under the law’s new regulation.

All attention now turns to the rulemaking process, in which USDA must determine the threshold level of GMO ingredients present to trigger labeling and whether to label food products produced from GMO commodities where detection is impossible in the processed product. USDA has a year under the law to complete a study on electronic labeling and online labels, including QR codes, to determine if they provide appropriate access to the necessary information.
Ultimately, the marketplace will determine which of the disclosure notifications are preferred based on consumer demand.

NPC encourages all interested stakeholders to pay attention to the upcoming regulatory process and submit comments when they are sought.

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

One comment on “GMO Labeling Law: The Good And The Bad

Farm Management Stories
A water-logged citrus grove in Southwest Florida following Irma
Citrus
October 10, 2017
Impressions from Irma Indelible on the Florida Farmscape [Slideshow]
Striking images from the field reveal not only the storm’s destructive nature, but also paths to recovery and reconstruction. Read More
Farm Management
October 6, 2017
California Small Farm Conference Celebrates 30 Years
Conference will be held October Oct. 29 - 30 in Stockton, CA. Read More
Greenhouse structures flattened by Irma at C&B Farms
Citrus
October 5, 2017
Hurricane Irma Toll on Florida Farming in the Billions
Preliminary damage estimates confirm storm’s ferocity. Read More
Citrus
October 4, 2017
Goodlatte Officially Introduces the Ag Guestworker Act
On Monday, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced his Agricultural Guestworker Act of 2017 bill, which would replace H-2A with an H-2C program. Rep. Goodlatte introduced the bill to the House Judiciary Committee, which he chairs. Read More
Swamped citrus in Southwest Florida
Citrus
October 2, 2017
Perseverance a Priority for Florida Farmers Post-Irma
Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam heartened by the strides being made by growers around the state as they begin to recover from the hurricane. Read More
cash money in hand
Citrus
October 2, 2017
$18 Million in Grants Available for Value-Added Producers
Farmers in need of planning or working capital funds to move their ideas forward encouraged to check out program. Read More
GenNext Growers
October 1, 2017
USDA Announces $12.6M to Train Next Generation of Ag Scientists
Future ag scientists are looking to tackle exotic invasive pests, water quality monitoring. Read More
Field of carinata
Citrus
September 27, 2017
Research on Jet Fuel Cover Crop Ready for Takeoff
Scientists seeking to find if carinata can sustainably feed future renewable energy demands. Read More
Citrus
September 27, 2017
Agriculture Offers Rare Opportunity for Bipartisan Action
A running theme from agricultural-friendly politicians speaking at the United Fresh Produce Association's Washington Conference was the need for a bipartisan approach to agriculture and immigration. Read More
Citrus
September 27, 2017
Will H-2A Become H-2C? Find Out What the New Bill Proposes
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R VA) is re-introducing a bill that aims to replace H-2A. Here are some of the ways it will differ from the current program. Read More
Citrus
September 26, 2017
Rise of Agricultural Automation Drives Innovative Event
The International Forum of Agricultural Robots aims to provide links to farming’s future. Read More
Citrus
September 25, 2017
Building Strong Advocates for Farming a Class Act
Emerging leader development for agriculture starts from the ground up. Read More
SFWMD Big Cypress Basin pump station following Irma
Citrus
September 22, 2017
Water Management Concerns Flowing in Florida After Irma
Efforts mounted and executed to move gallons by the ton to protect property. Read More
Handfuls of Florida hops
Citrus
September 22, 2017
When it Comes to Growing, Florida Farmers Never Say Never
Let's raise a toast to the bold producers and researchers who are taking our industry beyond previously perceived crop viability boundaries to places once figured forbidden. Read More
Citrus
September 21, 2017
Hurricane Relief Fund Launched for Florida Farmworkers
Money raised will benefit Redlands Christian Migrant Association’s efforts to aid families in need. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
October 18, 2017
How to Keep Track of Climate Change
Use cool tools to find out how your production methods may change in the future, how much your area is at risk, and how to limit your own impact on the climate. Read More
Citrus
October 17, 2017
USDA Issues Disaster Declaration for Hur…
Operators in designated counties eligible for emergency assistance. Read More
Citrus
October 16, 2017
Wrath of Hurricane Irma’s Rainfall…
Report says storm dropped enough gallons of water on Florida’s St. Johns River Water Management District to swamp 6.7 million football fields. Read More
Citrus
October 10, 2017
Impressions from Irma Indelible on the F…
Striking images from the field reveal not only the storm’s destructive nature, but also paths to recovery and reconstruction. Read More
Farm Management
October 6, 2017
California Small Farm Conference Celebra…
Conference will be held October Oct. 29 - 30 in Stockton, CA. Read More
Citrus
October 5, 2017
Hurricane Irma Toll on Florida Farming i…
Preliminary damage estimates confirm storm’s ferocity. Read More
Citrus
October 4, 2017
Goodlatte Officially Introduces the Ag G…
On Monday, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced his Agricultural Guestworker Act of 2017 bill, which would replace H-2A with an H-2C program. Rep. Goodlatte introduced the bill to the House Judiciary Committee, which he chairs. Read More
Citrus
October 2, 2017
Perseverance a Priority for Florida Farm…
Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam heartened by the strides being made by growers around the state as they begin to recover from the hurricane. Read More
Citrus
October 2, 2017
$18 Million in Grants Available for Valu…
Farmers in need of planning or working capital funds to move their ideas forward encouraged to check out program. Read More
Citrus
September 27, 2017
Research on Jet Fuel Cover Crop Ready fo…
Scientists seeking to find if carinata can sustainably feed future renewable energy demands. Read More
Citrus
September 27, 2017
Agriculture Offers Rare Opportunity for …
A running theme from agricultural-friendly politicians speaking at the United Fresh Produce Association's Washington Conference was the need for a bipartisan approach to agriculture and immigration. Read More
Citrus
September 26, 2017
Rise of Agricultural Automation Drives I…
The International Forum of Agricultural Robots aims to provide links to farming’s future. Read More
Citrus
September 25, 2017
Building Strong Advocates for Farming a …
Emerging leader development for agriculture starts from the ground up. Read More
Citrus
September 22, 2017
Water Management Concerns Flowing in Flo…
Efforts mounted and executed to move gallons by the ton to protect property. Read More
Citrus
September 22, 2017
When it Comes to Growing, Florida Farmer…
Let's raise a toast to the bold producers and researchers who are taking our industry beyond previously perceived crop viability boundaries to places once figured forbidden. Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Precision in Specialty Crops Gains Momen…
Here are some of the key drivers that may transform your farm in the years ahead. Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Hopes High for Hops Fresh From Florida
When it comes to alternative crop solutions, something good is brewing in the Sunshine State. Do you have what it takes to tap in? Read More
Citrus
September 15, 2017
Help Extended to Hurricane-Weary Farmers…
USDA chief grants extra time and special procedures to document and file claims. Read More