The American Soybean Association (ASA) welcomed guidance issued Nov. 19 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that establishes guidelines for the uniform, voluntary labeling for non-GMO foods. Establishing a uniform standard for voluntary labeling has been a key part of ASA’s push to reduce consumer confusion about which foods do and do not contain ingredients derived from biotechnology.

“ASA is happy to see the guidance from FDA today that affirms that voluntary rather than mandatory labeling is the correct science-based and health policy,” said ASA President and Texas farmer Wade Cowan. “This concept has been at the heart of our work on a legislative solution that would provide more clarity to consumers, and we’re encouraged to see that part of the process move forward.”

ASA also pointed to news out of the White House that the administration has rejected a petition calling for the mandatory labeling of GMO’s as indication that the discussion on biotechnology in the consumer marketplace is moving according to science, rather than misconception.

“We have consistently said that explicit labeling should be reserved for health or safety concerns, and science has time and time again proven that these concerns don’t apply to GMOs,” added Cowan. “Slapping a warning label on the front of a food product when no such warning is warranted will only serve to steer people away from the safe and affordable food they need to feed their families. The White House has chosen science over rhetoric today, and we applaud them for it.”

Cowan further suggested that the news creates the momentum needed to get labeling legislation that would prevent a patchwork of mandatory state labeling laws passed in the Senate prior to the holiday recess at the end of the year.

“Winter is coming,” Cowan said.  “The Senate has the ability in the coming weeks to establish a path forward on labeling that is based in science and doesn’t stigmatize a safe and proven technology, but at the same time provides consumers with the information they want. We encourage Senators to keep moving forward with their work.”

The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) also applauded the decision of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reject a petition for mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients (GMOs).

“In denying this petition, the FDA once again looked at the research on GMOs and reaffirmed what every reputable scientific study on these products has found—that GMOs are safe and not different in any meaningful way from foods produced without this breeding technology,” said Chuck Conner, president and CEO of NCFC. “This decision opens the way for further congressional action on legislation that will provide a verifiable, process-based and federal voluntary GMO labeling standard that will expand consumer choice in the marketplace and provide consistency and certainty across the country. Legislation should also prevent states from creating their own labeling standards, such as Vermont has done, that have no basis in science and would create an untenable, 50-state patchwork of standards.”