Federal legislation was introduced April 9 to create a national standard for the safety and labeling of food and beverage products made with genetically modified ingredients. And some major farm groups support the law.

Using science-based evidence for such labeling, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling bill squarely puts the Food and Drug Administration as the nation’s authority when it comes to companies that want to label GMO food ingredients in products. The agency would have the authority, and not individual states, to mandate the labeling of any GMO food ingredients it determines would create a health, safety or nutrition issue.

“The GMO labeling ballot initiatives and legislative efforts that many state lawmakers and voters are facing are geared toward making people wrongly fear what they’re eating and feeding their children. They undermine the public’s understanding of the many benefits of biotechnology in feeding a growing population – and keeping costs down. With the introduction of this legislation and the leadership of the bill’s sponsors, Farm Bureau looks forward to a national-level discussion that will affirm FDA’s role in assuring consumers about GMO safety and reduce the confusion that would result from a patchwork of state labeling initiatives,” says Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“(The act) provides certainty for both consumers and farmers alike by creating a unified, science-based approach to labeling and eliminating potential risks and costs posed by an expensive patchwork of labeling laws,” says Martin Barbre, president of the National Corn Growers Association.  “NCGA’s more than 40,000 members work tirelessly to provide America’s families with a wide variety of nutritious, quality food choices that are both safe and affordable.

"GMOs are important to farmers and to our nation’s food supply as they help us grow a stable supply of crops that can withstand a variety of changing conditions while reducing our use of chemicals,” said Barbre.

Mike Pompeo (R- Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D- N.C.) as well as Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) are credited for working to introduce the legislation.

“This bill has resounding support from the North Carolina Farm Bureau and the agriculture community at-large,” says Butterfield.  “It prevents a mishmash of labeling standards and allows farmers to continue to produce higher yields of healthy crops in smaller spaces with less water and fewer pesticides.  If passed, this will be a big win for farmers nationwide.”

The legislation gives FDA the power to define what can be deemed “natural” when it comes to food and beverage products.

“Genetically modified soybeans have been in widespread use by American farmers since 1997. Not only have these applications been repeatedly tested and proven safe by the world’s most stringent food safety testing system, they have been so without a single documented instance of a human or animal health risk. Not one. That’s why, as farmers, we grow them, and as consumers, we feed them to our families. It’s time that we have a reasonable, science-based discussion on GMOs and this bill helps get us there,” says Ray Gaesser, American Soybean Association president.

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