House Rules Committee considers Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, 475 groups support it, NFU and OTA oppose

As the House Rules Committee prepares to hold a hearing at 5 p.m. today on H.R. 1599 – the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act that was introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan. – the National Farmers Union said today it opposes the bill.

The Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food, an industry group that supports the bill, said 475 groups are backing it.

The bill would forbid state governments from labeling foods with genetically modified ingredients while establishing a No-GMO label administered by the Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

NFU policy “supports conspicuous, mandatory, uniform and federal labeling for food products throughout the processing chain to include all ingredients, additives and processes, including genetically altered or engineered food products,” the group said in a news release.

“The bill passed out of committee makes significant improvements over previous versions of this bill. Absent a mandatory labeling framework, however, NFU cannot support this bill,” NFU President Roger Johnson said in the news release. Johnson said the inclusion of additional authority for the Agriculture Department to establish a labeling program “if utilized could reduce consumer confusion, greater emphasis on the Food and Drug Administration’s role in safety reviews, and a GMO label that works in conjunction with USDA’s organic seal instead of counter to it.

“Consumers increasingly want to know more information about their food, and producers want to share that information with them,” said Johnson. “It is time to find common ground that includes some form of mandatory disclosure for the benefit of all aspects of the value chain, but this bill is not that common ground.”

The Organic Trade Association also opposes the bill.

The Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food released a letter from the 475 supportive groups calling on House members to vote for the bill. The groups maintained that the No-GMO labeling program in the bill will create a uniform, transparent labeling standard for foods made with GMOs and protect consumer choice and science-based labeling.

–Hagstrom Report