The U.S. Agriculture Secretary plans to bring stakeholders in the genetically engineered food labeling debate to the table to reach common ground on the issue. That comes as a handful of states are pushing for their own labeling laws that some farm groups call a “patchwork” of mismatched regulations. Those regulations include a Vermont law starting in July which will cost hundreds of millions of dollars for the food industry to comply with, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
On the federal level, a group of lawmakers is calling for a uniform GMO labeling system across all 50 states that would set a national standard. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, a federal voluntary labeling initiative, failed to get through Congress this year. The opposition had coined the phrase ‘DARK Act’ as an alternate name for the bill, calling it the “Denying Consumers the Right to Know Act.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced he will hold a stakeholder meeting on GMO labeling in 2016. Vilsack said he is concerned about “chaos in the market” if more states implement labeling laws with differing provisions.
Many stakeholders from farm and food groups to consumer organizations are behind GMO labeling, but are unsure on the best path forward, according to USDA.
Vilsack says his meeting would be an effort to find balance in a labeling measure. Meanwhile, a handful of House and Senate Republicans have pledged to focus on legislation again in 2016 that would prevent states from enacting labeling laws, but some warn there is still not enough support in the Senate.