The American Soybean Association (ASA) welcomed the introduction this morning of new legislation to establish a federal voluntary labeling standard for foods made with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act would direct FDA to provide guidance for companies that wish to label their products for the presence or absence of GMOs; make mandatory an FDA safety review of all new GMO traits before they are brought to market and enable FDA to mandate labels on any product shown to pose a health, safety or nutrition risk; and directs FDA to define the term “natural” for use on food labels. Additionally, the bill would eliminate a large potential source of confusion among consumers by establishing FDA’s labeling guidance as the national standard and preventing states from enacting a patchwork of conflicting requirements.
“This bill is a commonsense, science-based approach to an issue we realize is close to the hearts and minds of so many consumers,” said Iowa farmer and ASA President Ray Gaesser. “Americans want to know that their food is safe, and the solutions proposed in this bill will ensure that they have that information. It will require that the FDA review all new GMO traits for safety, and stipulate that the FDA require labels for any product that has a safety or health risk. It will allow companies to voluntarily label foods as non-GMO and enable those consumers who wish purchase non-GMO foods to do so. Importantly, however, it won’t force consumers to pay more for food just because some interests want to require mandatory labeling of safe and healthy foods made with GMOs.”
Economic studies show that an average family of four would pay about $500 more per year for groceries under mandatory GMO labeling schemes being considered in some states.
Gaesser especially praised the bill’s co-sponsors, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) for their foresight in championing the bill. “Congressmen Pompeo and Butterfield and each of the sponsors of this bill have taken a brave and progressive step,” he said. “The conversation surrounding GMOs is one that has been crowded with misinformation and hyperbole on all sides, but at its core, must be about science. The Congressmen realize that my fellow farmers and I use these tools—each of which represents a revolutionary and proven-safe scientific advance—to be more productive while consuming fewer resources. They are to be commended for pursuing a science-based step forward on GMOs, and we call on the Energy and Commerce Committee to move forward with hearings on the bill as quickly as possible.”
“Genetically modified soybeans have been in widespread use by American farmers since 1997. Not only have these applications been repeatedly tested and proven safe by the world’s most stringent food safety testing system, they have been so without a single documented instance of a human or animal health risk. Not one. That’s why, as farmers, we grow them, and as consumers, we feed them to our families,” added Gaesser. “It’s time that we have a reasonable, science-based discussion on GMOs and this bill helps get us there.”