House Ag Committee gives nod to voluntary GMO labeling

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Farm Forum

Huron, SD — On July 14, the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture approved H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015. If the House Energy & Commerce Committee waives its right to a markup, the legislation could move to the House floor as soon as July 23. Farm Bureau supports this legislation, which would provide a national framework for the voluntary labeling of GMO foods, an alternative to a confusing and costly state-by-state patchwork of mandatory labels.

“We in agriculture understand that consumers are interested in where their food comes from, but a 50-state maze of mandatory labeling laws for GMO ingredients would be bad news for every single person in the supply chain,” commented Scott VanderWal, family farmer from Volga, S.D. and President of the South Dakota Farm Bureau (SDFB). “This bill is the right approach because it balances the consumer’s desire to know with consistent, science-driven rules for if and when biotechnology should be labeled at the grocery store.”

Farm Bureau, which is part of the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, points out that consumers would feel the financial impact of mandatory GMO labeling. As states implement their own mandatory labeling laws, companies would be forced to create multiple supply chains, warehousing, and delivery mechanisms to comply. Because of this, grocery costs for families could increase by as much as $500 per year, according to a recent study by Cornell University.

“Activists have been very successful in creating a buzz about GMO labeling, but good public policy should be driven by science and not sound bites. H.R. 1599 is a sensible way to proceed so the benefits of biotechnology are not undone for farmers, for consumers, and for the growing world we are working to feed,” VanderWal added.

Nationally, more than 90 percent of corn, soybeans, and cotton are produced using biotechnology. In South Dakota, 97 percent of both corn and soybeans are from GMO seed, representing $3.1 billion and $1.8 billion respectively.