A bipartisan agreement has been reached among negotiators in the U.S. Senate on national disclosure standards for genetically engineered foods.
The compromise bill was announced recently by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, the Agriculture Committee’s ranking member, and its chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-KS. The legislation would create the first mandatory, nationwide label for food products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), according to the Vermont Press Bureau.
“This bipartisan agreement is an important path forward that represents a true compromise. Since time is of the essence, we urge our colleagues to move swiftly to support this bill,” the two lawmakers said in a joint statement.
The National Potato Council (NPC) supports the legislation released by Roberts and Stabenow. The agreement preempts all state labeling laws related to the labeling of genetically modified food and uses a definition of genetic engineering that potato growers support.
“This is a timely and important step forward in the labeling discussion as it would prevent a patchwork of confusing state laws,” said NPC CEO John Keeling. “We thank the Senators for their hard work on this bipartisan legislation and urge the Senate to vote on it next week.”
The measure would also nullify Vermont’s first-in-the-nation GMO labeling law, which takes effect July 1, and would bar any other state from enacting labeling requirements that differ from the federal standards. This was an important facet of the bill, said Midwest Food Processors Association President Nick George.
The legislation will need 60 votes to pass the Senate. The House, which is on break until July 5, would also have to approve the legislation since it differs in many respects from the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (H.R. 1599) the chamber passed last July by a vote of 275-150.