Consumer-focused legislation will enhance transparency and advance food safety
Washington, D.C. (April 9, 2014) – The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), applauds today’s introduction of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which would establish a federal standard for the safety and labeling of food and beverage products made with genetically modified ingredients (GMOs).
“We understand the public has questions about the safety of biotech foods, and that’s why we launched GMO Answers last year. We are committed to answering those questions in an open and transparent manner,” said Cathy Enright, BIO’s Executive Vice President for Food and Agriculture. “We also endorse the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act as a federal GMO labeling solution that helps to address consumers’ questions about GMO safety and provides them with tools necessary to make informed decisions.”
Sponsored by Representatives Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), the bipartisan Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act strengthens the role of the nation’s primary food safety authority, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to:
Advance Food Safety: Require the FDA to conduct a safety review of all new GMO traits before they are introduced into commerce. 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.
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.
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.
BIO supports the legislation as an opportunity to reinforce our commitment to advancing transparency and food safety. “We support making the FDA safety consultation process mandatory and making scientific studies and evidence of safety publically accessible to anyone who wants additional information,” says Enright. “Moreover, BIO supports statutory language for explicit FDA authority to require a label on any GMO food ingredients that raises a safety or health issue.”
BIO believes that one of the cornerstones of effective food policy is bolstering consumer confidence. “The aim of our GMO Answers program is to create a public conversation about GMOs and to provide the answers people are seeking,” said Enright.
“Similarly, this bill seeks to build public confidence by providing a federal policy solution that eliminates confusion, provides consistency in food labeling regarding GMOs, while keeping food costs affordable.”
BIO applauds Representatives Pompeo and Butterfield, and all of the bill’s original cosponsors: Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), and Ed Whitfield (R-Ken.)
“These leaders understand that GMO labeling is a national issue that deserves a national solution,” said Enright. “We urge other members of Congress to support the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act and look forward to working to move this bill in the 113th Congress.”
BIO is a member of The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, which is dedicated to providing policy makers, media, consumers and all stakeholders with the facts about ingredients grown through GM technology. We are a farm-to-fork group of organizations advocating for common sense policy solutions that will only further enhance the safety of the GM crops and protect the vital role they play in today’s modern global food supply chain. The coalition is comprised of American farmers and representatives from a diverse group of industry and non-governmental organizations. Members Include:
1. AACC International/ American Phytopathological Society 2. Agricultural Retailers Association
3. American Bakers Association
4. American Beverage Association
5. American Farm Bureau Federation
6. American Feed Industry Association
7. American Frozen Food Institute
8. American Fruit and Vegetable Processors and Growers Coalition
9. American Seed Trade Association
10. American Soybean Association
11. American Sugarbeet Growers Association
12. Biotechnology Industry Organization
13. Corn Refiners Association
14. Council for Responsible Nutrition
15. Flavor & Extract Manufacturers Association
16. Global Cold Chain Alliance
17. Grocery Manufacturers Association
18. International Dairy Foods Association
19. International Franchise Association
20. National Association of Manufacturers
21. National Association of Wheat Growers
22. National Confectioners Association
23. National Corn Growers Association
24. National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
25. National Grain & Feed Association
26. National Fisheries Institute
27. National Milk Producers Federation
28. National Oilseed Processors Association
29. National Restaurant Association
30. National Turkey Federation
31. North American Millers Association
32. Pet Food Institute
33. Snack Food Association
34. U.S. Beet Sugar Association
35. U.S. Canola Association