Dems offer changes to GMO labeling bill headed to House floor

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Legislation that would keep states from issuing mandatory labeling laws for foods that contain genetically modified ingredients is headed to the floor for a vote on Thursday.

The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) in March, would create a federal standard for companies that wish to voluntarily label their foods that contain GMOs.

The House Rules Committee revised the bill Tuesday night to clarify language opponents said would have pre-empted states from regulating any new technology related to the production of GMO crops. The bill says that states are only pre-empted from regulating the sale of GE plants for use in food.

Democrats also offered four amendments, including one from Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) that prohibits the use of the term “natural” on foods that consists of a genetically engineered plant and an amendment from Rep. Chellie Pingree’s (D-Maine) that strips away all of the bill’s language except for a provision that would create a certification program and label through the U.S. Department of Agriculture for companies that want to label their products as non-GMO.

A third amendment from Rep. Peter DeFazio’s (D-Ore.) forces any U.S. company or its subsidiary that labels a product as containing GMOs in a foreign country to label the equivalent product the same way in the U.S. and a fourth amendment from Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) ensures that tribes will be able to prohibit or restrict the cultivation of GMO plants on tribal lands.

The bill and the amendments offered by Democrats still need to be approved by the full House.  

Opponents are pushing hard against the legislation that they say will keep consumers from knowing what’s in their food and stop the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from crafting a national GMO labeling solution. Consumer groups have even gone as far as to rename the bill the “Denying Americans the Right to Know or DARK Act.”

“American families deserve to know what they are eating and feeding their families,” DeLauro told reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

Lashing back at the criticism in an interview with The Hill last week, Pompeo called on his opponents to show him the provision of the bill that denies anyone the right to know what’s in their food.

If consumers want foods containing GMOs to be labeled, he said, all they have to do is stop buying foods that aren’t and industry will respond. 

This story was updated at 4:09 p.m. to clairfy that the amendments still need to be voted on by the House.

Tags Agriculture Biology Environment Food Food and drink Genetically modified organisms Mandatory labelling Mike Pompeo Molecular biology Nutrition facts label Rosa DeLauro Traceability of genetically modified organisms
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