The U.S. Senate today voted down an effort by Sen. Pat Roberts to prohibit states from requiring genetically modified food labels. And various agriculture groups are disappointed with the vote on this food labeling legislation.
From the House Committee on Agriculture:
Today, House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) issued the following statement in response to the Senate’s failure to advance critical bioengineered food labeling senators on the proposed bioengineered food labeling bill.
“The House Agriculture Committee has been working for months to promote bipartisan solutions to the problems confronting American agriculture. We have listened to our constituents, engaged in deliberate public debate, and proceeded doing the jobs we were elected to do.
“My good friend Pat Roberts along with many members of his Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry have been true leaders. They have attempted countless times to do the work of the Senate but have been hampered at every step by an uncompromising and inflexible group of minority party Senators.
“Make no mistake, it’s not Republicans these Senators have opposed, it’s the American farmer and rancher. Enough is enough. Americans are tired of viewing a broken system that refuses compromise at the behest of extreme views be it on the left or the right. These Senators have refused to move from their position calling for a mandatory warning label for products of biotechnology. They have chosen to side with activists who have publicly acknowledged their objective is to stigmatize a safe and valuable tool for America’s farmers and ranchers.
“There are many marketing techniques available to provide consumers with information about the products they choose to purchase. Biotechnology is not an issue of safety. Therefore, government mandated warning labels having nothing to do with product safety and serve no purpose other than to disparage one product over another. These Senators cannot continue to say that they are advocates for America’s farmers and ranchers when they consistently oppose those who provide the food we eat and the clothes on our backs.
“Today, no thanks to this small group, the Senate defeated a motion to conclude debate on legislation to establish a standard for marketing products of agricultural biotechnology. Due to these actions, interstate commerce will be severely threatened; small, family-owned food companies face penalties that include a $1,000 per day, per product fine should their products intentionally or unintentionally cross into Vermont’s borders; America’s farmers will lose access to vital technologies; and our ability to continue to provide the world’s safest, most abundant and affordable food supply will be threatened.
“Today does not need to be a bad day for American Agriculture. I call on the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Ranking Member to fulfill her responsibility by standing up for America’s farmers and ranchers. This issue cannot be resolved so long as it is viewed as a zero-sum game.”
From the American Farm Bureau Federation
Statement by Zippy Duvall, President
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 16, 2016 – “It is inexcusable that today’s Senate vote on a voluntary federal GMO labeling bill that preempts a damaging patchwork of state measures fell short. While we appreciate Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scheduling this floor vote today, we will continue our fight for this vital piece of legislation, along with Senate Ag Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and others, to secure a law that supports consumers, America’s farmers and ranchers and our nation’s system of affordable, productive agriculture.
“To say we are angry with those senators who abandoned farmers and ranchers and turned their backs on rural America on this vote is an understatement. Their votes opposing this measure ignored science, threw our nation’s food system into disarray and undermined the public’s understanding of the many benefits of biotechnology in feeding a growing and hungry population. We remain hopeful they will have a chance at redemption by correcting this situation that will otherwise lead to increased food costs for consumers and stifle agricultural innovation, which remains a strength of our nation. We must not let anyone forget that rural America and our farmers and ranchers do matter.”
From the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food:
(Washington, D.C.) – The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food issued the following statement today after the Senate failed to pass Chairman Pat Roberts’ uniform, national food labeling standard:
“This is the most pressing issue currently facing the food and agriculture industries, so it is disappointing that despite nearly 800 groups united in support behind this reasonable solution, the Senate could not get it across the finish line today,” said Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.
“Despite today’s vote, there continues to be a strong bipartisan consensus to protect American consumers from the increased food costs and confusion of a 50-state patchwork of labeling laws,” added Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association. “GMA is committed to rolling up our sleeves to work with Chairman Roberts and Senator Stabenow so that the Senate can enact a bipartisan solution in the near future.”