K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) committee chair, House Committee on Agriculture, issued a statement during June that supported the progress in establishing a national labeling standard for food containing biotechnology ingredients. But there are critics of the latest language being considered by Congress.
Conaway said, “I am pleased with the progress made between the Committee on Agriculture and the Committee on Energy and Commerce to refine and improve the legislative language of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015. Creating a policy of national uniformity regarding marketing claims for agricultural production technologies is a priority for the Agriculture Committee. A patchwork of arbitrary and inconsistent state and local labeling laws will raise consumer costs and negatively affect our ability to enhance food safety, food quality and environmental sustainability. Legislation to protect and promote interstate commerce in agricultural products derived through the use and non-use of plant based genetic engineering is of critical importance. As the legislative process continues, I look forward to continuing to receive input from stakeholders and technical assistance from the Department of Agriculture to ensure the final text is correct, workable, and enjoys significant bipartisan support.”
Mischa Popoff, a former USDA contract organic inspector and author of Is It Organic, is definitely opposed to GMO labeling at both the state and federal level—no matter how they’re written. He says, “GMO labelling laws imply that there might be something wrong with GMOs, and this can only hurt American farmers in the long run.”
He notes that replacing state-level GMO labelling initiatives with a national single, uniform, national GMO labelling law sounds like a good compromise, but the language in the federal law could be a major problem. He says read the text of the bill, H.R. 1599, where it says the following:
“The Secretary shall promulgate regulations to specify a maximum permissible level of food consisting of a bioengineered organism that may be inadvertently present in food bearing claims [that bioengineering was not used]. (SEC. 425, emphasis added.)”
Popoff contends, “The ‘maximum permissible level’ that will be adopted is the one that Europe uses: 0.9 percent. I hope you will ask yourselves, why would America do anything to harmonize its rules on GMO farming with nations that are anti-GMO? And who will lead the world in this important field of agricultural science if America falls by the wayside?
“This threshold limit on GMOs will make it possible for organic farmers in America to sue their GMO neighbors whenever their organic crops are found to have GMO content above that level, and this will slowly strangle GMO farming in America.”
He adds that it is misguided laws such as this one that “will guarantee GMO Golden Rice will never see the light of day,” and Golden Rice is needed for its nutritional value and vitamins above white rice around the world.