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House panel to markup GMO labeling bill

House panel to markup GMO labeling bill
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A bill to keep the labeling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, voluntary is headed to the House Agriculture Committee for a markup on Tuesday.

The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, offered by Rep. Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Trump asks Turkey for evidence on missing journalist | Key Dem calls for international probe | Five things to know about 'MBS' | Air Force struggles to determine cost of hurricane damage to F-22 jets GOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Washington Post to publish special Opinion page with new Khashoggi column MORE (R-Kan.) in March, would create a federal standard for voluntary labeling, while pre-empting states from passing their own mandatory GMO labeling laws and preventing local governments from regulating the production of GMO crops.

Though the bill has bipartisan support with Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) a co-sponsor, consumer groups have called on lawmakers to kill the measure, saying it's backed by big business.

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The Center for Food Safety said it opposes the bill because it would overturn mandatory labeling laws that have already passed in Vermont, Connecticut and Maine.

Groups have even gone as far as to rename Pompeo’s bill the Denying Americans the Right-to-Know (DARK) Act because they say it will keep consumers in the dark about what foods contain GMOs even though polls show that 92 percent of Americans favor mandatory labeling laws.

Opponents instead are pushing Congress to pass the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act that was offered in the Senate by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and in the House by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.).

The Right to Know Act would require labels for all foods produced using genetically engineering ingredients and prohibit manufacturers from labeling genetically modified foods as natural. 

The full House Agriculture Committee will meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday to discuss and markup Pompeo’s bill.

The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, which is a proponent of the bill, said the legislation’s momentum is a testament to the science-based, consumer-friendly labeling framework it will create and the understanding among members of Congress that a state patchwork of mandatory labeling laws will be harmful to consumers - raising food costs and reducing choices in the marketplace.

This story was updated at 5:05 p.m. to include statements from the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food.