Hoeven: Agriculture Committee Has Bipartisan Proposal to Address GMO Labeling

Senator Has Been Working to Find Agreement to Prevent Patchwork of State Labeling Requirements

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, who serves on the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, today announced that the Ag Committee has unveiled a compromise proposal to address the GMO labeling issue. Hoeven has been working with Ag Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) to reach a bipartisan agreement to avert a costly patchwork of different state labeling requirements for genetically modified food products and to ensure that consumers have access to information about their food.

“We’ve been working hard to find a solution to the GMO issue that can pass in both the House and the Senate. Now, we need to act and move this bipartisan proposal before Vermont’s labeling law goes into effect next month,” said Hoeven. “This compromise will prevent a patchwork of state labeling requirements and higher costs for consumers and producers. While the science tells us that biotech foods are safe, the right to know is important, and this bill does provide that we have a national disclosure standard.”

The plan, announced by Agriculture Committee Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow, will:

• Prevent a patchwork of programs that vary from state-to-state, which would add expense for consumers and producers alike.
• Establish a uniform national disclosure standard for human food that is or may be bioengineered. The standard will be established through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rulemaking process.
• Require mandatory disclosure with several options, including text on package, a symbol or a link to a website. Small food manufacturers will be allowed to use websites and telephone numbers to meet disclosure requirements, and very small manufacturers and restaurants are exempt.
• Exempt foods where meat, poultry and egg products are the main ingredient. The legislation prohibits the Secretary of Agriculture from considering any food product derived from an animal to be bioengineered solely because the animal may have eaten bioengineered feed.

If Congress doesn’t address Vermont’s GMO law, which goes into effect on July 1, the unintended consequence will be higher grocery bills for families. In fact, if food companies have to apply Vermont’s standards to all products nationwide, it will result in an estimated increase of over $1,050 a year per household.