Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
The debate surrounding whether federal standards should exist for the labeling of GMOs will continue this week. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is charged with the regulation of GMOs and has determined that foods derived from GMO sources are safe for human consumption. For this reason, the labeling of GMOs is not currently regulated by the federal government. In 2014, the state of Vermont signed into law an act that would require labels on products containing GMOs. As the Act is scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2016, many outside groups continue to pressure Congress to enact legislation that would create federal GMO-labeling standards that would preempt any state from creating its own standards. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, is leading this effort in the Senate and has drafted legislation to address this issue. The exact text remains unknown to the general public; however, Senator Stabenow has been very clear that her intent is to protect manufacturers from the burdensome maze of requirements she believes would result from a patchwork of state laws, and to provide consumers with reliable, scientific-based product ingredient information. Although he hasn’t come forward with a position on the proposal, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has publicly announced his commitment to collaborate on a compromise bill that would create federal GMO-labeling standards.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Tuesday, May 17: The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture will mark up the “Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriation Act of FY 2017.”
- Tuesday, May 17: The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry will hold a hearing titled “Focus on the Farm Economy: Impacts of Environmental Regulations and Voluntary Conservation Solutions.”
- Wednesday, May 18: The House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing titled “Service in the Field: Veteran Contributions to National Food Security.”
- Thursday, May 19: The Senate Appropriations Committee will mark up the “Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriation Act of FY 2017.”
- Thursday, May 19: The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee will hold a hearing titled “The Farm Credit System: Oversight and Outlook of the Current Economic Climate.”