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House Committee Examines GM Food Ingredients and FDA Regulation

December 10, 2014
PompeoIt was a big day for agricultural biotechnology in our nation’s capital. The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held a hearing today on the labeling of genetically modified foods and specifically looked at proposed legislation aimed at remedying the contentious debate.

The Safe and Affordable Food Act, HR 4432, would eliminate consumer confusion created by a state-by-state patchwork of labeling laws, advance food safety, inform consumers and provide consistency in food labeling. The bill:

  • reaffirms the FDA as America’s preeminent authority on food safety and labeling requirements;

  • requires the FDA to approve all new GMO ingredients before they are brought to market; and

  • establishes federal standards for companies that wish to voluntarily label their products for the absence-of or presence-of GMO food ingredients.

The bill, introduced by Representatives Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) has come under attack by biotech opponents who protested today’s hearing.

Organized by the Organic Consumers Association, about 100 protestors gathered on Capitol Hill and donned blindfolds to symbolize “being kept in the dark” on food ingredients.

In opening remarks, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said:
"The people who will be harmed most by the anti-GMO movement are the people who are least able to fight against it.”

Food industry executives agree. A state-by-state patchwork of GMO labeling laws could have “unintended consequences: at the very least, an added expense at the grocery store, and at the most extreme, the elimination of some of your favorite foods from the marketplace,” writes Tom Dempsey, president and CEO of the Snack Food Association and a witness at today’s hearing.

Dempsey states that consumers already have options when it comes to buying non-GMO products:
"Today, a company cannot display a USDA Organic Seal or a Non-GMO Project Verified Seal without completing thorough certification processes. The independent Non-GMO Project alone has certified over 20,000 non-GMO products in the last 10 years. Many of our member companies are proudly providing organic and non-GMO products through this rigorous and expensive certification process. The system in place works.”

The Snack Food Association is one of 38 agricultural and food industry organizations that make up the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, a supporter of the Safe and Affordable Food Act.

Witness list and testimonies are posted on the House Energy & Commerce Committee website.