The U.S. House of Representatives on July 23 passed HR 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (SAFLA), by a vote of 275-150.
The bill will now go on to a vote in the Senate. As the bill is currently written, it would prevent states and municipalities from requiring food and feed manufacturers label their products as containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Here are four congressional and agricultural leaders’ reactions to the passage of the bill:
1. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, co-author of bill: “This legislation will have a significant and lasting impact for Kansas farmers, our agricultural community, and everyone who wants to provide safe and affordable food. … The outcome of states, or even cities and counties, setting their own GMO laws would confuse consumers, stigmatize GMO crops, and raise food costs. It would be devastating for Kansas farmers, rural communities, and Kansas parents that are trying to provide safe and affordable food for their families. Today, the House of Representatives voted to stop this silliness. We now need the Senate to do the same. SAFLA is very simple – it provides a national, uniform labeling standard to allow consumers the right to know what is in their food and permit the government to stay out of the way of these consumer choices. SAFLA is based on facts and science.”
2. K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee: “Advances in technology have allowed the U.S. to enjoy the safest, highest quality, most abundant, diverse and affordable supply of food and fiber mankind has ever known. With the world’s population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, biotechnology is an essential tool for our farmers to meet this demand in an environmentally sound, sustainable, and affordable way. Unfortunately, proposed federal and state laws threaten this innovation by generating a patchwork of differing labeling requirements, which will result in inconsistent and confusing information for consumers and interfere with interstate commerce. H.R. 1599 establishes a voluntary nation-wide marketing program that gives consumers access to consistent, reliable information while protecting advancements in food production technology and innovation.”
3. Bob Stallman, president, American Farm Bureau Federation: “Congress stood with farmers and ranchers in supporting innovation that helps the environment and keeps food prices down for everyone. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 would protect consumers from confusing and misleading GMO labels and create a national, voluntary labeling standard based on science and common sense. The American Farm Bureau Federation supports all farmers and ranchers and opposes anyone who stands in the way of safe, affordable food. Consumers benefit from variety in the marketplace and should be free to make choices based on facts. The facts are that many farmers are growing more food with fewer resources, reducing their environmental impact, and keeping costs down—all thanks to advances in biotechnology.”
4. John Linder, chairman, National Corn Growers Association Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action team: “Bipartisan support for this legislation, evident on the floor during [the July 23] House vote, continues to grow. We applaud the House for tackling this critical issue head on, and now urge the Senate to act as soon as possible. We must pass federal legislation this year to avoid realization of the threat of an unworkable patchwork of state GMO labeling mandates which will drive up costs for farmers and consumers alike. With Vermont’s state labeling law is set to take effect next July, the looming impacts of this situation increase the urgency of the need for Congress to act on a national labeling law.”
The bill was introduced by Reps. Mike Pompeo and G.K. Butterfield, D-North Carolina.