Congressman Introduces GMO Labeling Bill That Would Void State Laws

April 10, 2014

Food manufacturers don’t have to label products that contain genetically modified ingredients, and now they have a bill that would keep it that way.

Rep. Mike Pompeo on Wednesday morning introduced The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014, a bill that would give ultimate authority of GMO labeling to the Food and Drug Administration, which favors a voluntary approach to the issue. The measure, which has the support of the food, biotechnology and agriculture industries, looks to nullify efforts in no less than 20 states to require mandatory labeling for foods that contain GMOs.

“The scientific community has spoken with one voice,” the Kansas Republican said in a teleconference with reporters to promote his bill. Biotechnology is safe and “there is not a single example” of anyone getting sick after eating food made with GMOs. Requiring labels on foods that contain GMOs misleads consumers to believe that there is a health and safety risk, similar to warning labels on cigarettes, he said.

However, consumer and pro-labeling groups in favor of the state efforts are less than convinced.

“This is an unworkable proposal,” Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs for the Center for Food Safety, told reporters in a joint conference call with the Environmental Working Group and Organic Trade Association this afternoon. “We feel it reads more like a contract with the devil” than a solution to providing consumers more information about GMOs in their food.

The introduction of the bill, H.R. 4432, comes just as Vermont looks to become the first state to break through with a final vote of its state’s Senate on mandatory GMO labeling expected in the coming weeks. It’s a situation the food industry would like to avoid.

Pompeo’s 21-page bill unveiled Wednesday, which mirrors almost exactly a draft version first reported last week by POLITICO, aims to instead create a friendlier, preemptive set of federal rules to quell public concerns over GMOs and stem the tide of state bills and ballot initiatives that are proving costly for the industry to fight.

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