GMO Labeling Push Continues


By Chris Clayton, DTN Ag Policy Editor

Biotech labeling battles appear primed to continue in 2015, despite defeat at the polls and little or no movement among dueling pieces of legislation in Congress.

The group Food Policy Action will deliver a petition to lawmakers Tuesday calling on Congress to require labeling all foods that include ingredients from genetically-engineered crops. Celebrity Chef Tom Colicchio is helping drive that effort to label foods from biotech crops. Food Policy Action is chaired by Ken Cook, president of Environmental Working Group and Food Policy Action is based out of the same office building as EWG in D.C.


Voters in November rejected biotech labeling initiatives in Colorado and Oregon, though the Oregon measure is under a ballot recount after failing by 800 votes. Despite the losses, supporters claim that 93{28d451f77a4de8a52cd2586be6cc1800527fe70ea84e8b3f90098495d088e086} of Americans support labeling “GMOs.”

Colicchio is known as the top judge on the Bravo cable network show “Top Chef.” He is the founder of Craft and Colicchio & Sons restaurants which has a handful of locations based in New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Colicchio is a board member for Food Policy Action.

The Food Policy Action, though, is hanging its petition on a pair of matching bills in the House and Senate that have virtually zero chance of passage. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., are the lead sponsors of identical bills, the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act, HR 1699/S. 809.

This is largely a last-ditch effort for the Boxer-DeFazio bill because it's far less likely such legislation would be considered in Congress over the next two years. says the prognosis on the bill in either chamber is “0{28d451f77a4de8a52cd2586be6cc1800527fe70ea84e8b3f90098495d088e086} chance of being enacted.”

Meanwhile, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and others are pushing a bill drafted by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act or HR 4432. Pompeo's bill would effectively block any state labeling laws and ensure only the Food and Drug Administration could require labels on foods containing ingredients from biotech crops. Under the bill, the FDA could only require biotech labels if there is a determination that a label is needed to protect health or safety. gives Pompeo's bill a 4{28d451f77a4de8a52cd2586be6cc1800527fe70ea84e8b3f90098495d088e086} chance of becoming law.

A spokeswoman for Pompeo told DTN on Monday that the House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on Pompeo's bill on Dec. 10.

As much as 80{28d451f77a4de8a52cd2586be6cc1800527fe70ea84e8b3f90098495d088e086} of U.S. food products contain at least some ingredients from biotech crops because of the prevalence of biotechnology in growing corn, soybeans and sugar beets. Then there are a small number of fruits and vegetables that contain approved biotech traits as well.

Vermont lawmakers approved a biotech labeling law earlier this year that could go into effect in 2016, though the law is facing litigation from labeling opponents. Connecticut and Maine have biotech labeling laws that would not kick in until nearby states accounting for at least 20 million people adopt such laws.



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Posted by Jami Howell

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