Senate Advances GMO Labeling Legislation

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The U.S. Senate has invoked cloture on the GMO labeling bill (S.764) by a vote of 65-32, which now clears the way for a final vote. Various agriculture groups are encouraging the passage of this legislation:

From the American Seed Trade Association:

Alexandria, Va.—July 6, 2016—The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) applauds the U.S. Senate for today’s bipartisan cloture vote on common sense legislation that ensures a transparent, uniform national food disclosure standard while protecting farmers and small businesses from the harmful consequences of a patchwork of state labeling laws.

“We commend Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow for their leadership in moving this critical agreement forward,” said ASTA President & CEO Andrew LaVigne. “The legislation is a common sense, practical solution to prevent the consequences of a costly and confusing patchwork of state food-labeling laws, like we’ve already seen set into motion in Vermont.”

With Vermont families already feeling some of the negative impacts of the state’s labeling law, in the form of limited consumer choice, ASTA is urging the U.S. Senate to pass S.764 as soon as possible, so the U.S. House can take it up next week.

From the American Soybean Association:

WASHINGTON (July 6, 2016) – American Soybean Association (ASA) President Richard Wilkins, a soybean farmer from Greenwood, Del., welcomed the Senate’s action today supporting compromise biotech labeling legislation from Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow. In a statement, Wilkins called on the Senate to finalize approval of the measure this week and provide certainty in the marketplace for the nation’s farmers and consumers:

“ASA welcomes today’s vote in the Senate, and we appreciate very much the hard work from Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow to get us this far. Their cooperation and coordination has yielded a package that provides consumers the information about biotech content in food products that they need without stigmatizing a completely safe and sustainable food technology.

“We’re now six days into implementation of the Vermont law, and already we’ve seen more than 3,000 food products removed from shelves in Vermont. This drop in sales, coupled with the potential drop in sales due to consumer misperception of the misleading Vermont on-pack label, is already beginning to manifest itself in the marketplace. It’s clear that Congress must act quickly. We call on the Senate to pass the bill when it comes up for a vote later this week.”

From the National Corn Growers Association:

National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling released the following statement in response to the Senate’s cloture vote on the Roberts-Stabenow agreement:

“The National Corn Growers Association is pleased the cloture vote on the Roberts-Stabenow GMO labeling agreement received 65 votes, more than the 60 votes necessary to move the legislation forward. However, there is still important work that needs to be done. We urge the Senate to quickly take action and pass this legislation.”

Vermont’s mandatory law requiring on-package labels of foods containing ingredients that have been genetically modified went into effect last week. Congress needs to act now to avoid the chaos in the marketplace that will result from having different labeling standards from one state to the next. Multiple studies have shown that the costs associated with Vermont’s GMO-labeling law, and a subsequent patchwork of state laws, will cost American families hundreds of dollars more in groceries each year – with low-income Americans being hit the hardest.

The Roberts-Stabenow agreement brings consistency to the marketplace, ensuring that consumers have the access to product information they deserve without stigmatizing this safe, proven, technology valued by American farmers.

NCGA, working with partners across the value chain, has pushed for a solution to this issue for more than two years now as a member of the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food.

For more information on the need for a federal labeling standard, visit the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, at

From the National Milk Producers Federation:

ARLINGTON, VA – The National Milk Producers Federation thanked Senate members for approving a cloture motion today that will set up a final vote on legislation that would create a federal, uniform labeling system for foods produced using biotechnology. The final vote is expected to take place by Friday afternoon.

The legislation, negotiated by Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) of the Senate Agriculture Committee, would preempt Vermont’s state GMO labeling law that took effect July 1, and instead establish national guidelines for how companies disclose the presence of ingredients and foods made with biotechnology. Cloture was invoked Wednesday afternoon with the bipartisan support of 65 Senators. Members now have 30 hours to debate the measure before it moves to a final vote.

“We are now a major step closer to ending the confusion that has already arisen because of the Vermont law,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “With final passage by the Senate, approval by the House, and with President Obama’s signature, we can establish a national framework to provide information to consumers without stigmatizing agricultural biotechnology and complicating how companies market foods in interstate commerce.”

NMPF expressed its appreciation for the commitment that Sens. Roberts and Stabenow gave to reach a solution on this issue that reaffirms the federal government’s role in food labeling policy.

Mulhern noted that nearly 3,000 products have been pulled from Vermont supermarket shelves in the past week, as a result of companies making decisions not to sell certain products there, now that the state’s own mandatory labeling law is in effect.

“The understandable decision by companies to avoid the Vermont market because of the new state law hurts consumers and is evidence that an issue of this importance must be resolved at the federal level, not on a state-by-state basis,” Mulhern said.

NMPF continues to urge its members to contact their Senators to encourage passage of the Robert-Stabenow agreement, using the organization’s online Dairy GREAT website email tool. The organization recently joined nearly 1,100 food companies in signing a letter pushing for the bill’s passage.

Food ingredients made using biotechnology have been proven safe by more than 2,000 studies from leading scientific bodies worldwide. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have all reaffirmed their long-standing recognition of the safety of the technology.

From the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food:

(Washington, D.C.) – The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food today praised members of the U.S. Senate who voted for cloture on S. 764, bipartisan legislation crafted by Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow that will provide consumers the most transparent food ingredient disclosure system in U.S. history while blocking the harmful impacts of a patchwork of state labeling laws.

With a strong bipartisan vote of 65-32, the Senate cleared the way for a final vote by the end of the week.

“We are thankful for the tremendous showing of bipartisan support that has lined up behind this bill and we are hopeful that it will clear the Senate later this week,” said Pamela G. Bailey, President and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association and CFSAF co-chair. “We saw over the weekend that the negative impacts of Vermont’s law are already hitting consumers and small businesses, with shoppers in Vermont seeing fewer options on the shelves. Ultimately, this could lead to higher prices and even lost jobs in other states. Fortunately, nearly 1,100 leading groups from agriculture producers to small businesses around the country have lined up in support of this bipartisan breakthrough agreement.”

“The leadership shown by Chairman Roberts and Senator Stabenow has been commendable, and America’s family farmers, small businesses and consumers should all thank the bipartisan group of Senators who voted in favor of this bill today,” said Charles F. Conner, President and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and co-chair of CFSAF. “Today’s vote was one for transparency and consistency. America’s food producing community is united in support for this bill and we look forward to working with leaders in the House to ensure this bill is taken up next week before the summer recess.”