WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Representatives of Ohio's agriculture and food sectors came to Capitol Hill today to urge passage by Congress of a uniform, national labeling standard for foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
With Vermont set to implement its own labeling standard next July and other states passing or considering their own labeling mandates, participants in the fly-in expressed the urgency to get a federal bill passed this fall in order to stave off the negative effects of a patchwork of differing state labeling laws.
A uniform, national food labeling standard will ensure that consumers in all 50 states have access to the same labeling information, bringing consistency and transparency to the marketplace. Additionally, a GMO-free certification program will provide consumers who choose to purchase non-GMO items a reliable means of doing so.
The fly-in, organized by the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, featured men and women from 22 states who represent the entirety of the nation's food supply chain: farming groups, co-ops, seed producers and food companies. In total, the group had more than 140 meetings on Capitol Hill today.
Participants in the fly-in expressed the urgent need for action by the Senate soon on the critical issue.
Ohio farmers rely on GMOs to help them grow more crops on less land while using fewer pesticides, less irrigation and limiting greenhouse gas emissions. In 2014, 86 percent of the corn and 90 percent of the soybeans grown in Ohio were genetically modified.
A state patchwork of labeling laws would also impact Ohio food producers, forcing them to create costly new supply chains to meet the demands of each unique state law.
"Our plant in Brewster, Ohio, sends our food products to customers in states across the country. They're the same products, and the product information on the label should be the same regardless of where the shopper is buying these products," said Mark Schwerdtfeger, vice president of sustainability, safety & wellness for Shearer's Snacks, based in Massillon, OH. "Making us put different labels on the products for different states doesn't make any sense, and complying with these new state labeling mandates is going to cost more – and raise prices for people buying our food."
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act in July by a significant 275-150 bipartisan vote, with 45 Democrats voting yes. That legislation would ensure that consumers have access to the same science-based information regardless of which state they shop in instead of different state mandates. It would also create a national GMO-free certification program that would provide consumers who prefer GMO-free foods a consistent means of identifying those products.
The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food is committed to passing a reasonable, common sense labeling standard this fall and will continue to advocate for food labeling policies that keep prices down and provide reliable and consistent science-based information.
Editor’s Note: The vending industry will need to join this fight for a national GMO labeling program. Otherwise, different rules will make it difficult to meet regulations to sell products in various cities or states, especially when the products are fresh food sold in micro markets.