On Wednesday, Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R. 4432) that would create a federal standard for the labeling of foods and beverages made with genetically modified ingredients (GMOs). The bill, known as the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014, is a commonsense measure that would establish uniformity in food and beverage labeling and ensure the labeling of products addresses health and consumer safety concerns. Currently, no such standard exists and, as states consider their own labeling standards, a myriad of conflicting state standards could dramatically increase costs for both producers and consumers. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) supports the legislation and praises Reps. Pompeo and Butterfield—and original cosponsors Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY)—for their leadership in advancing federal policies that will ensure a safe and affordable food supply.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the nation’s foremost food safety agency. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act would provide the agency with the authority it needs to establish voluntary standards for GMO products and to require mandatory labeling of GMO products if they are found to be unsafe or materially different from foods produced without GMOs. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014 will ensure that federal policies on food labeling protect consumers and allow them to make the best food and beverage choices for their families. H.R. 4432 would accomplish the following:
- Ensure food safety: Requires FDA to determine the safety of a GMO and whether the GMO is materially different from traditional food before it can be introduced into commerce.
- Establish labeling standards: Provides FDA authority to issue regulations for the voluntary labeling of food and beverage products containing GMO ingredients.
- Require mandatory labeling based on health and safety: Directs FDA specify labeling requirements for GMO foods to protect health and safety or to prevent the label of a GMO food from being false or misleading, based on any material difference between the GMO and the comparable traditional food.
- Provide consistency in labeling: Requires FDA to issue regulations defining the term “natural” so that food and beverage companies and consumers have a consistent legal framework that will guide food labels and inform consumer choice.
- Eliminate confusion: Preempts state labeling standards to avoid the confusion and uncertainty of a 50-state patchwork of GMO safety and labeling laws and affirms the FDA as the nation’s authority for the use and labeling of genetically modified food ingredients.
Food and beverage manufacturing accounts for 1.65 million jobs in the United States and is critically important to the success of the federal government’s domestic and global feeding programs, including SNAP, school nutrition, WIC and direct U.S. foreign food aid. The food and beverage industry does more to combat hunger and malnutrition in the U.S. than anyone else. In the past 3 years, the food sector has contributed $3 billion in food and cash to fight hunger and malnutrition.
GMO technology has fostered a revolution in American agriculture that has benefitted consumers in the U.S. and around the world. GMOs enable America’s food producers to more efficiently use resources and allow farmers to withstand crippling droughts and ward off disease or pestilence while reducing their use of pesticides and chemicals. Click here to contact Congress to urge support for the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014.
For more information about GMOs and the need for a federal labeling standard, visit www.CFSAF.org.