Vermont GMO Bill Step in Wrong Direction, Says GMA

Federal labeling solution would eliminate confusion, advance food safety

genetically modified organisms GMO (CSP Daily News / Convenience Store Petroleum)

WASHINGTON -- The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) issued a statement opposed to the movement of HB 112, a bill that would require mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients, through the Vermont legislature:

"Vermont HB 112 is a step in the wrong direction for consumers. It sets the nation on a costly and misguided path toward a 50-state patchwork of GMO [genetically modified organism] labeling policies that will do nothing to advance the safety of consumers.

"GM crops are safe and have important benefits for people and our planet. They use less water and fewer pesticides, reduce crop prices by 15% to 30% and can help us feed a growing global population of seven billion people.

"The FDA, World Health Organization, American Medical Association and U.S. National Academy of Science have all found that foods and beverages that contain GM ingredients are safe and materially no different than conventionally produced products. Consumers who prefer to avoid GM ingredients have the option to choose from an array of products already in the marketplace labeled 'certified organic.' The government, therefore, has no compelling interest in warning consumers about foods containing GM ingredients, making HB 112's legality suspect at best. As we continue to evaluate the impacts of HB 112, we will make a determination about whether litigation is the appropriate response to this misguided legislation.

"We encourage policymakers in Vermont and across the nation to support alternative legislation that would ensure that food labels are accurate and consistent for consumers. Bipartisan federal legislation, the Safe & Accurate Food Labeling Act, HR 4432, would require a label on foods containing GM ingredients if the FDA--our nation's foremost food safety authority--determines there is a health or safety risk. Any labeling of GM ingredients would, therefore, be based on science, not fear or the varying politics of the 50 states."

The GMA said that HR 4432 would:

  • Eliminate Confusion: Remove the confusion and uncertainty of a 50-state patchwork of GMO safety and labeling laws and affirm the FDA as the nation's authority for the use and labeling of genetically modified food ingredients.
  • Advance Food Safety: Require the FDA to conduct a safety review of all new GMO traits before they are introduced into commerce. The FDA will be empowered to mandate the labeling of GMO food ingredients if the agency determines there is a health, safety or nutrition issue with an ingredient derived from a GMO.
  • Inform Consumers: The FDA will 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.
  • Provide Consistency: The FDA will define the term "natural" for its use on food and beverage products so that food and beverage companies and consumers have a consistent legal framework that will guide food labels and inform consumer choice.

The GMA is the voice of more than 300 leading food, beverage and consumer product companies.