- The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing to discuss GMO labeling, and many food industry groups spoke out in support of GMOs and a national labeling standard.
- Many of these groups argued that GMOs were safe and made comments that were supported by top officials from the FDA, APHIS, and EPA.
- The groups also requested that the Senate put in place a national GMO labeling standard to prevent food companies from having to contend with a patchwork of state labeling laws, such as Vermont's law set to go into effect July 1.
A New York Times poll found that 93% of consumers believe foods containing GMOs should be labeled as such. Celebrities have come out in support of GMO labeling, and academics have shown support for both sides of the GMO debate.
The House already passed a bill supporting a national GMO labeling standard that would be voluntary for companies rather than mandatory. Earlier this month, 95 lawmakers from 21 states asked Congress to oppose the House's bill, saying that state GMO labeling laws are constitutional and would not create a patchwork of laws.
Regarding a national labeling standard, Gary Hirshberg, CEO of Stonyfield Farm and Just Label It campaign chairman, said it should be "a value-neutral disclosure that respects the right of consumers to make their own choices."
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) said the government's communication of product safety hasn't been effective. "We're talking about how do we provide consumer information and information consumers want vs. what consumers need," she said.
Groups supporting GMOs and a national labeling standard at the hearing included the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC), and National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA).
"The Senate Agriculture hearing reaffirmed the broad consensus among scientists and regulators that GMOs are safe and highlighted the real world negative impacts a patchwork of state labeling mandates will have on farmers, businesses and consumers. Action by Congress is urgently needed this year to pass a national, uniform labeling standard," said Pamela G. Bailey, GMA president and CEO.