The U.S. Senate has reportedly rejected by a vote of 71 to 27 a Farm Bill amendment that would have clarified the right of states to enact laws requiring special labeling for food and beverages manufactured with genetically modified (GM) ingredients. Co-sponsored by Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the amendment apparently aimed to protect states against lawsuits filed by food and beverage industry interests opposed to GMO labeling.
“An overwhelming majority of Americans favor GMO labeling but virtually all of the major biotech and food corporations in the country oppose it,” said Sanders in a May 23, 2013, press release. “Today’s vote is a step forward on an important issue that we are going to continue to work on. The people of Vermont and the people of America have a right to know what’s in the food that they eat.”
Meanwhile, a recent New York Times article has documented the push to not only disclose the presence of GMO ingredients to consumers, but to certify foods, beverages and even livestock feed as GMO-free. According to Times writer Stephanie Strohm, the Non-GMO Project has seen an increased demand for its certification service as companies try to anticipate state GMO labeling laws before they are passed. At the same time, however, manufacturers that currently rely on conventional crops are concerned about whether farmers and suppliers will be able to meet the needs of a “GMO-free” marketplace.
“Suppliers are going overseas to get what they need,” a national grocery buyer at Whole Foods told Strohm. “We know farmers need to feel secure that there’s a market for what they grow, and I’m saying, please plant these crops, there is a demand.” See The New York Times, May 26, 2013.