Coalition formed to push federal GMO labeling
Twenty-nine agriculture and nongovernmental groups today formally announced they have formed a Coalition for Safe Affordable Food to urge Congress to establish federal labeling for food and beverage products made with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
The coalition’s idea is that a federal law providing for mostly voluntary labeling would pre-empt the state labeling efforts that seem to be gathering momentum.
Environmental and consumer activists criticized the effort even before it was formally announced, but today it was the pro-GMO groups’ turn to explain why they had formed a coalition.
“Foods made with genetically modified ingredients are safe and have a number of important benefits for people and our planet,” said Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which spearheaded the effort.
“Our nation’s food safety and labeling laws should not be set by political campaigns or state and local legislatures, but by the FDA, the nation’s foremost food safety agency,” she said.
“American families deserve safe, abundant and affordable food,” said Martin Barbre, president of the National Corn Growers.
“And America’s farmers rely on this proven technology to protect crops from insects, weeds and drought, enabling us to deliver on that promise and to do so through sustainable means,” he said.
“A federal solution on GMO labeling will bolster consumer confidence in the safety of American food by reaffirming the U.S. Food & Drug Administration role as the nation’s foremost authority on the use and labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.”
“AFFI is pleased to join the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food and looks forward to working with our coalition partners and lawmakers in support of a responsible and effective federal labeling program that prevents the creation of a complicated patchwork of state-based labeling rules that would increase, rather than reduce, consumer confusion,” said American Frozen Food Institute President and CEO Kraig R. Naasz.
“The NGFA believes strongly that it is in the best interests of all stakeholders — including consumers — to arrive at a federal solution to labeling of products containing ingredients derived from modern agricultural biotechnology,” said National Grain and Feed Association President Randy Gordon.
“It is essential that such a framework remains both safety- and science-based, and continues to fully protect consumers,” Gordon added.
“What will not work is a state-by-state patchwork of different laws and requirements that would devastate the efficiency our nation’s food and animal feed production and marketing system, and dramatically increase costs to consumers.”
The coalition said the legislation they will propose would:
▪ Eliminate confusion and uncertainty that could be caused by a 50-state patchwork of GMO safety and labeling laws by affirming the FDA as the nation’s authority for the use and labeling of genetically modified food ingredients.
▪ Require the FDA to conduct a safety review of all new GMO traits before they are introduced into commerce and to mandate labeling if the agency determines there is a health, safety or nutrition issue with an ingredient derived from a GMO.
▪ Establish federal standards for companies that want to voluntarily label their product for the absence of or presence of GMO food ingredients so that consumers clearly understand their choices in the marketplace.
▪ Order the FDA to define the term “natural” for its use on food and beverage products.
The group also said it wants to counter misinformation about GMOs through contact with policymakers and the public.
Coalition of Safe Affordable Food
▪ AACC International
▪ American Phytopathological Society
▪ American Bakers Association
▪ American Beverage Association
▪ American Farm Bureau Federation
▪ American Feed Industry Association
▪ American Frozen Food Institute
▪ American Seed Trade Association
▪ American Soybean Association
▪ American Sugarbeet Growers Association
▪ Biotechnology Industry Organization
▪ Corn Refiners Association
▪ Council for Responsible Nutrition
▪ Flavor & Extract Manufacturers Association
▪ Global Cold Chain Alliance
▪ Grocery Manufacturers Association
▪ International Dairy Foods Association
▪ National Association of Manufacturers
▪ National Association of Wheat Growers
▪ National Confectioners Association
▪ National Corn Growers Association
▪ National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
▪ National Grain & Feed Association
▪ National Fisheries Institute
▪ National Oilseed Processors Association
▪ National Restaurant Association
▪ National Turkey Federation
▪ North American Millers Association
▪ Snack Food Association
▪ U.S. Beet Sugar Association
–The Hagstrom Report