The Senate Agriculture Committee approved legislation Tuesday that establishes national standards for food made with genetically engineered ingredients, or GMOs. The bipartisan legislation, spearheaded by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), now heads to the full Senate.
The proposed bill would establish a national voluntary GMO labeling standard to be developed by USDA within two years of the bill’s enactment. The bill also would prohibit any state from setting separate GMO labeling requirements and also includes an educational component that will inform consumers about the safety and accessibility of information on agricultural biotechnology.
Vermont is set to require its own set of labels beginning in July. The proposed Senate bill would block that law and create new voluntary labels for companies that want to use them on food packages that contain GMOs.
While there are many who oppose Roberts’ legislation, the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food expressed confidence immediately after the committee vote that the full Senate would pass the legislation.
In a statement, Claire Parker, spokesperson for the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, said, “We couldn’t be happier with today’s vote and have full confidence that the full Senate will soon pass this legislation. We see no major road bumps that will slow the momentum at our backs. The House and Senate Agriculture Committees, as well as the full House of Representatives, have now supported a uniform, national labeling standard in bipartisan fashion. We have every reason to believe the full Senate will soon do so as well and a bill will be on the president’s desk within weeks.”