Jul 23, 2015
The American Soybean Association (ASA) welcomes a vote today from the House of Representatives to approve H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which would establish a national, voluntary framework for the labeling of foods either containing or not containing genetically engineered ingredients.
“The passage of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act is a significant victory for the freedom of soybean farmers to make the most of the broad range of advances that biotechnology provides for our industry,” said Wade Cowan, ASA President and a soybean farmer from Brownfield, Texas. “Congressmen Pompeo and Butterfield as well as Chairman Conaway and Ranking Member Peterson have each worked tirelessly alongside farmers and industry to ensure that our ability to make the most of this technology, which has been unanimously proven safe, isn’t infringed upon. We send them our most sincere thanks, and look forward to working with our partners in the Senate to advance this legislation to the President.”
The legislation would require developers of genetically engineered plants to obtain FDA safety clearance on all new plant varieties before those foods are introduced into commerce; uphold FDA’s authority to specify special labeling if it finds a health or safety risk is posed by such a variety; create a legal framework governing the use of label claims regarding either the absence or presence of GMOs in a food product; require FDA to define the term ‘natural’ on food labels.
“The bill accomplishes much, including the prevention of a state-by-state patchwork of conflicting labeling laws that would drive up grocery costs,” added Cowan. “Additionally, the bill empowers and guides those companies who wish to label and market their products as GMO-free to do so by through a USDA-accredited certification process. ASA believes this approach, which would label a select subset of products marketed at a premium, makes far more sense than labeling the vast majority of common, everyday products in the grocery store. What it also avoids is the inevitable demonization of these products based on debunked science and willful misinformation. With the advent and advance of modern biotechnology, farmers have made massive strides toward addressing the significant challenge that lies ahead of us—to feed a global population of nearly 10 billion by 2050. We simply can’t meet that challenge if we allow our technology to be stigmatized based on false safety claims.”
ASA’s focus now shifts to the Senate, where a companion bill from Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota awaits markup in the Agriculture Committee.