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The GMO Labeling Eagle Has Landed
The GMO Labeling Eagle Has Landed
By IAN KULLGREN 06/24/16 10:00 AM EDT
With help from Catherine Boudreau, Helena Bottemiller Evich,
Jason Huffman, Annie Snider and Brian Mahoney
A shorter URL for the above link:
THE GMO LABELING EAGLE HAS LANDED: After months of secret talks that left the ag world pining for the slightest drip of info, the Senate GMO labeling dam finally broke open Thursday when Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking member Debbie Stabenow unveiled a bill featuring three mandatory disclosure options: an on-package label, a USDA-developed symbol or an electronic code consumers can scan.
But that was only the first battle, Pro Ags Catherine Boudreau reports.
Roberts and Stabenow are now hustling to get the 60 votes needed to pass their legislation. Both have said over the last month they wouldnt bring a bill to the floor of the upper chamber unless it had support from a majority of their fellow lawmakers and the agriculture lawmakers are now confident they can get there, Senate sources said. But its already too late for Congress to pass a measure before the Vermont law goes into effect July 1.
The House adjourned unexpectedly early Thursday because of Democrats sit-in protest over gun control measures. The lower chamber won’t resume business until July 5, which is when those behind the Roberts-Stabenow bill hope a companion measure can be taken up. The path in the House is uncertain. House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, who backed the voluntary GMO labeling bill that the House passed nearly a year ago, held out on supporting the Roberts-Stabenow bill Thursday, saying he needs time to review it.
THE LEFT REVOLTS OVER GMO DEAL: The left flank of the pro-labeling camp is not at all happy with the Senate deal, and they’re making their discontent known. Sanders condemnation a move that could push the hot-button issue of food labeling into the 2016 presidential debate, despite his sunsetting hope of landing the Democratic nomination was only the tip of the iceberg.
Just Label It said in a statement the bill falls short and then tweeted a picture of a labeled product with the hashtag #nodarkact. Activists from U.S. Right to Know, a group that has been using Freedom of Information Act requests to go after industry influence in scientific research, called the bill a sweetheart deal to kill #GMO labeling.
Consumers Union Director of Food Policy Jean Halloran railed against the measure: “If this bill is passed by the Senate, it would be a clear case of Congress acting on behalf of industry interests, rather than on those of their constituents. We urge all senators to stand up for consumers and real disclosure and oppose this bill.
Vani Hari, the controversial blogger known as “Food Babe,” said the bill “screws consumers. She tweeted: Mark my words. Food companies that decide to use QR Codes will be targeted by major online campaigns to shame them.”
FULL BACKING FROM BIG FOOD, AG: More than a dozen groups from the food, biotechnology and agriculture industries endorsed the Senate GMO labeling deal, ranging from the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization to the National Farmers Union and the National Milk Producers Federation. They said Congress should pass the legislation as soon as possible to set a national labeling standard and avoid uncertainty and chaos in the marketplace.
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