Genetically Modified (GM) Labeling Bill Clears Committee
As the July 1 deadline for compliance with Vermont’s labeling requirements for genetically modified (GM) foods draws nearer, many continue to hope for a federal legislative fix. In February, Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) introduced legislation to establish a national voluntary labeling standard for GM foods. Significantly, this bill would preempt separate state requirements in this area, including Vermont’s.
On March 1, the Senate Agriculture Committee approved the Roberts bill, with 14 out of 20 committee members (including 3 Democrats) voting in favor of the markup. The bill now moves to the Senate floor for a vote.
The Roberts bill is similar to the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 (which the House of Representatives passed in July 2015). A key difference is that the Roberts bill lacks some of the detail of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, such as express provisions allowing companies to make “natural” claims on GM foods and allowing foods to be labeled “non-GM” even if they are produced with GM processing aids or enzymes. Even without these details present, the bill has garnered significant support within the food industry and the committee’s vote is being lauded by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI). As before, we will track the progress of this bill and continue to report on GM labeling developments as the clock ticks down to July 1.