Senate Ag Committee advances bill to pre-empt VT GMO labeling

LOGOThe Senate Agriculture Committee today considered GMO labeling legislation introduced by Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS). That bill would preempt state and local governments from passing GMO labeling laws, and would set up a voluntary GMO labeling regime at USDA. It also includes a definition of biotechnology that conflicts with the definitions included in the organic regulations, and requires USDA to create a consumer education platform around the benefits of biotechnology. The Committee voted 14-6 to advance the bill with three Democrats (Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)) joining all Committee Republicans in support of the legislation. Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and five other Democrats opposed the bill. During debate, Stabenow acknowledged a need for a compromise in a short timeframe, indicated that any solution must include a pathway to a federal mandatory disclosure of GMOs, and expressed concern that the proposed voluntary program does not meet the consumer demand for more information. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) also opposed the bill, and stressed that a compromise would also need to avoid negatively impacting the organic industry. Roberts indicated he would continue to negotiate on a compromise before the bill reaches the Senate floor, which we understand is likely later this month or in April. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is expected to introduce a separate GMO labeling bill in the coming days. OTA’s Government Affairs team remains actively engaged with the policymakers, and will continue to keep you posted.  Contact Marni Karlin (OTA’s Vice President of Government Affairs and General Counsel) with any questions or concerns – and keep an eye on your inboxes for updates.

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