Hoeven: Ag Committee Advances Plan to Address GMO Labeling

Key Is to Provide Information in a Way that Works and Gets Bipartisan Support

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee, today announced that the committee has advanced new legislation to address GMO labeling. The measure will avert a costly patchwork of different state labeling requirements for genetically modified food products, while providing consumers with more information about the food they buy at the grocery store. The key, Hoeven said, is to find a way to provide accurate information to the public in a format that works and that will also get sufficient votes on the senate floor to pass.

“The science tells us that biotech foods are safe,” Hoeven said. “The cost issue to consumers is important, but we also need to understand that this is a tough time for our ag producers. We have to be out there helping those farmers and ranchers. The right to know is important, and this bill does provide that we have a national standard for a voluntary labeling standard that the USDA has to have in place within two years. Further, the USDA has to continue that work to make sure that info on GMOs are available to consumers and report back to Congress.”

The plan, introduced by Ag Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), will:

  • Prevent a patchwork of programs that vary from state-to-state, which would add expense for consumers and producers alike.
  • Require the USDA to establish within two years a national voluntary standard for foods that are bioengineered or may contain bioengineered ingredients. Using the rulemaking process, USDA will be able to consider comments and other factors.
  • Require the USDA secretary and secretary of Health and Human Services to submit within four years a market-wide report on the availability of information regarding whether a food is bioengineered. This voluntary disclosure of information could be available through the use of the new national standard, other existing USDA authorities or other means.
  • Requires the USDA secretary and other federal agencies to engage in an ongoing consumer education and outreach effort. Information will be science-based and related to environmental, nutritional, economic and humanitarian benefits of agricultural biotechnology.