Senate Passes GMO Labeling Legislation

Dan General, Industry News Release

Senate GMO labeling billLate last night, various agriculture groups came out to thank the U.S. Senate for passing the Roberts-Stabenow food biotechnology labeling measure, otherwise known as the GMO labeling bill (S.764) by a vote of 63-30. And many of these groups are now encouraging the House to also pass this legislation:

From the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food:

The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food today praised the U.S. Senate’s passage by a 63-30 vote of common-sense bipartisan legislation developed by Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) that will protect American farmers and small businesses while providing a consistent, transparent food disclosure framework for shoppers across America.

“The Senate has provided all Americans a transparent and consistent system of disclosure that will give consumers access to more product information than ever before, and we urge the House to consider this legislation next week” said Pamela G. Bailey, President and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association and CFSAF co-chair. “Nearly 1,100 organizations in the food-producing community are united behind this bill to set a uniform, national standard that protects American family farmers and small businesses. Today’s vote means that both chambers of Congress have had strong bipartisan votes to set a national standard and avoid the higher costs and consumer confusion from a patchwork of state labeling laws.”

“We are tremendously thankful for this Senate vote and for the leadership of Senators Roberts and Stabenow,” said Charles F. Conner, President and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and co-chair of CFSAF. “We will now turn our full attention to working with the House and explaining why this is the right solution for farmers, food companies and consumers. This bill is simply too important to let sit until after the summer recess. Vermont’s law is already in effect and the negative consequences are already being felt. We need to get this solution passed by Congress and signed into law this month.”

From the National Corn Growers Association:

The National Corn Growers Association praised the U.S. Senate for its vote today passing the Roberts-Stabenow agreement. Now NCGA urges the House to quickly take up and pass this important legislation.

“Today, our representatives in the Senate took an important step toward bringing consistency to the marketplace,’ said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Maryland. “The Roberts-Stabenow agreement ensures consumers have the access to product information they deserve without stigmatizing this safe, proven technology that America’s farmers value. Now, we urge the House to build upon the Senate’s work today by quickly taking up and passing this legislation.”

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 American Soybean Association:

Following Senate passage of a bill to set a national standard for the labeling of foods containing GMO ingredients, American Soybean Association (ASA) President Richard Wilkins, a soybean farmer from Greenwood, Del., congratulated the Senate and called on the House to take up and quickly pass the measure. In a statement, Wilkins thanked Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow for their work on the bill and urged the House to act as soon as possible to provide certainty in the marketplace for the nation’s farmers and consumers:

“Tonight’s vote in the Senate has been a long time in the making, and we greatly appreciate the work by Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow. We believe that the bill they have crafted provides consumers the information they need without stigmatizing a safe and sustainable food technology, and we encourage the House to move quickly to approve this carefully crafted compromise. There is too much at stake in the marketplace to let the consequences of the Vermont law linger any longer.

“We’re grateful not only for the work of Senate Agriculture Committee leadership, but for the leadership on this issue on the House side as well. The House did its job on its voluntary bill almost a year ago and, while the Senate bill isn’t perfect, it’s the best legislation that can become law. A perfect bill that can’t pass won’t accomplish anything for the nation’s farmers or the nation’s consumers. We appreciate the efforts of Chairman Conaway, Ranking Member Peterson and Congressmen Pompeo and Butterfield, and we hope to count on their support for the bill as it moves to the House.”

From the National Milk Producers Federation:

“We are pleased the Senate has approved the Roberts-Stabenow food biotechnology labeling measure, which will help preserve the ability of farmers to use safe, proven agricultural biotechnology tools while providing consumers more information about their food.

“This compromise measure will help resolve the marketplace confusion that has already erupted as a result of the Vermont law, with thousands of products set to disappear from store shelves because companies no long wish to do business in that state.

“We want to thank the Senate for their efforts to pass this legislation because the country needs a national approach on this issue, not a patchwork quilt of state differing laws. In particular, we commend the efforts of Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) of the Senate Agriculture Committee, who negotiated the final measure.

“We now hope the U.S. House of Representatives will quickly take up and pass the Senate bill next week. Vermont’s problematic labeling law will continue to do damage along the food supply chain until both houses of Congress band together and send a bill to President Obama’s desk. Time is of the utmost importance.”

From the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association:

Tonight, the Senate passed legislation by a vote of 63 to 30 for the labeling of genetically engineered foods. The bill establishes a national, uniform standard and requires companies to disclose genetically modified ingredients through digital codes rather than stigmatizing through on-package labeling. While it is a mandatory program, there are several provisions which ensure the beef industry is protected:

1. The bill exempts all animal feed from this program. Therefore, beef would not be labeled as a result of consuming GMO feed.

2. It further exempts products covered under the Federal Meat Inspection Act which are inspected by the Food Safety Inspection Service. This means that muscle cuts, ground product, etc. will not be covered by this law.

3. Mandatory disclosure only applies to products which are inspected by FDA under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, unless the first ingredient in that product is beef. If the first ingredient is beef, then it will also be exempt from this law. There is an additional provision that says if the first ingredient is broth or water and the second ingredient is beef, then it will also be exempt. If beef falls anywhere else on the ingredient list, it will be subject to this law.

These provisions go a long way in protecting the industry from another activist-driven, anti-agriculture mandatory labeling program like the Vermont law, which went into effect last week. Senate Ag Committee

Chairman, Pat Roberts from Kansas, worked hard to make sure these provisions where included and NCBA is grateful to him for his work.