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Center for Food Safety Statement on GE Food Labeling Hearing in Energy & Commerce Committee

December 10th, 2014
Center for Food Safety

Hearing Highlights Need for National Policy, but Majority Throws States’ Rights Under the Bus in Exchange for Status Quo

December 10, 2014 (Washington, DC)—The House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee today held a hearing entitled, “Examining FDA's Role in the Regulation of Genetically Modified Food Ingredients.” Witnesses discussed competing proposals; H.R. 4432, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014 and H.R. 1699, the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act.

In reaction to the testimony and questioning presented in today’s hearing, Center for Food Safety Director of Government Affairs Colin O’Neil released to following statement:

“What we heard today was overwhelming support by Members of the Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee for a national labeling standard. The Committee further recognized the need to address consumer confusion in the marketplace resulting from the misleading use of the term ‘natural.’ However, what that national standard looks like and how the marketing term ‘natural’ should be dealt with, were left up for debate. 

“It was unfortunate that so many members of the Committee neglected to recognize the historic role that states have played in driving important policy changes. Given the lack of national leadership and overwhelming support for labeling, it is a shame that many Members of Congress would put states’ rights on trial in Congress today. While a federal, mandatory labeling scheme should be the ultimate goal, denying states the right to take action, as they have historically done, sets a dangerous precedent and only preserves the status quo.

“If Congress is concerned about the potential impact of state laws governing GE labeling, then it should support the establishment of a national mandatory labeling standard, as laid out in Center for Food Safety’s pending legal petition and legislation introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sen. Barbara Boxer. Such a standard would balance the needs by companies for a uniform standard while also providing all Americans with the same basic information. Rep. Pompeo’s bill, H.R. 4432, would do none of that.”

H.R. 1699/S. 809, introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sen. Barbara Boxer, would direct the Food and Drug Administration to use its authority to enact a federal, mandatory GE food labeling policy that would guarantee all Americans the right to know. It is supported by 63 Representatives and 17 Senators.

H.R. 4432, introduced this year by Rep. Mike Pompeo with the backing of the Grocery Manufacturers Association would block any federal or state action to require the labeling of GE foods while codifying the current ineffective voluntary scheme.

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