American Farm Bureau supports national GMO pre-emption bill

Published 10:27 am Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The American Farm Bureau Federation is supporting proposed U.S. Senate legislation that establishes federal pre-emption of state laws that mandate labeling foods with genetically modified ingredients.

The AFBF has maintained that, unchecked, such laws have the potential to become “an unruly patchwork” of state-by-state legislation.

The bill acts “to stop the expansion of state laws that threaten interstate marketing and effectively ignore science,” explained AFBF President Zippy Duvall on June 28. “The bill is far from perfect, but it correctly puts the federal government in the driver’s seat in important areas such as protecting interstate commerce and new crop development techniques.

There is no public health or scientific justification for the bill’s mandatory disclosure provisions, but the national uniformity established by this bill is paramount,” Duvall continued.

A Vermont law requiring on-package labels for foods with genetically modified organism ingredients is set to take effect in July.

Maine and Connecticut have passed similar laws, but those are not set to take effect unless neighboring states pass similar legislation.

The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation stands with the AFBF and more than 800 agriculture and food organizations in calling for federal legislation to unify biotechnology labeling laws.

The Senate bill would make the U.S. Department of Agriculture responsible for GMO labeling standards.

Multiple studies have shown GMO products are safe and that costs associated with GMO labeling will result in American families paying more for groceries.

“Biotechnology, or GMOs, have been used for decades in our food supply. They have been proven safe and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

So it’s past time for Congress to restore common sense to our food choices,” said Wilmer Stoneman, VFBF associate director of governmental relations. “We all need simple and reasonable information, not unjustified fear, when we shop for our families.”

More than 90 percent of U.S. corn and soybeans are produced using biotechnology. “Congress must take action,” Stoneman said, “to maintain farmer access to a beneficial technology that produces $64 billion worth of corn and $38 billion of soybeans annually.”

The VFBF has consistently asked state legislators to oppose GMO labeling legislation in the Virginia General Assembly.