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OVERNIGHT REGULATION: House Weighs Federal Rules for GMO Labels

Submitted by Food Democracy Now on March 24, 2015 - 6:49pm

By: Lydia Wheeler and Time Devaney

Welcome to OVERNIGHT REGULATION, your daily rundown of news from Capitol Hill and beyond. It's Monday evening here in Washington and now that Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) has officially launched his bid for the presidency we're wondering who will be next? Is "Emailgate" far enough behind former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her to start campaigning and will Donald Trump finally put his money where his mouth is and run? 

But, in the meantime, here's what's happening in the administration and the federal agencies.

THE BIG STORY

The House Agriculture Committee will examine the costs and impacts of mandatory biotechnology labeling laws at a hearing Tuesday morning.

 

Lawmakers are pushing for a federal law that would require manufacturers to label all genetically engineered foods and any food products that contain genetically engineered ingredients.

The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, which Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced in the House and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) introduced in the Senate, would direct the Food and Drug Administration to enforce the new rule.

But some industry groups would rather have a federal solution than a federal mandate. 

The Snack Food Association said it supports a federal solution of volunatry labeling that pre-empts state laws because having to comply with a patchwork of state laws would dramatically increase costs for manufacturers and consumers.  

"The entire supply chain from sourcing to production to transportation would be negatively impacted," SFA CEO Thomas Dempsey said in an email to The Hill Monday afternoon.

"SFA does not have a single member company that manufactures, distributes, and sells in just one state, which would make a patchwork of state labeling laws incredibly complex to implement.  Small, family-owned companies with just one plant or a single line of production would be hit the hardest."

Dempsey will be a witness at the hearing Tuesday along with Joanna Lidback, owner of The Farm at Wheeler Mountain in Westmore, Vt.; Lynn Clarkson, president of Clarkson Grain Co. Inc. in Cerro Gordo, Ill.; and Chris Policinski, president and CEO of Land O' Lakes Inc.

Though the Boxer-DeFazio bill aims to inform consumers about what they are eating, opponents say it fails to create a national labeling standard.

The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food has said that the bill would exacerbate the labeling conundrum by adding a federal mandate and penalties to an already existing patchwork of state laws and regulations.

Originally Published: The Hill

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