Bill blocks states from requiring GMO labels on food

The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday and blocks any mandatory labeling of foods made with genetically engineered crops, also known as GMO foods. Instead, labeling of GMO foods and ingredients will now be on a voluntary basis.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), who authored the bill, called mandatory labeling laws — which have already passed in Vermont, Connecticut and Maine — unnecessarily costly given that GMOs have been deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Advances in technology have allowed the U.S. to enjoy the safest, highest quality, most abundant, diverse and affordable supply of food and fiber mankind has ever known,” Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-TX), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said in an article. “With the world’s population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, biotechnology is an essential tool for our farmers to meet this demand in an environmentally sound, sustainable, and affordable way,” he added.

However, opponents have pushed back against the legislation, saying it will keep consumers from knowing what’s in their food and stop FDA from crafting a national GMO-labeling solution.

According to another article, consumer groups are instead calling the bill the Denying Americans the Right to Know Act, or the DARK act.

“American families deserve to know what they are eating and feeding to their children,” Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said in the article. “The FDA already requires clear labeling of over 3,000 ingredients, additives and food processes. GMOs should be no different.”

On the other hand, proponents of the legislation, claim a patchwork of labeling laws at the state level would drive up food costs.

The article goes on say that the Grocery Manufacturers Association recently explained that state-level GMO labeling mandates would increase grocery prices for a family of four by as much as $500 per year and cost food and beverage manufacturers millions of dollars to change food labels and supply chain systems.

The House also rejected two amendments that could have enhance GMO-labeling requirements including one that would have banned the use of “natural” on foods that contain a genetically engineered plant. Another proposal that would have forced any U.S. company that labels a product as containing GMOs in a foreign country, to label the equivalent product the same way, was also voted down.

Those in favor of mandatory labeling also said in an article that among their concerns about GMO foods is a worry that the herbicide, glyphosate, which is widely used on genetically modified crops, is harmful to human health. Residues of the pesticide have been detected in foods and a World Health Organization (WHO) research unit said glyphosate is “probably” cancer-causing for humans.

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