AFBF seeks food labeling

The American Farm Bureau Federation joined the Grocery Manufacturers Association and a diverse group of almost 30 agriculture and non-governmental organizations to launch the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food.  The coalition is urging Congress to quickly seek a federal solution that would protect consumers from a confusing patchwork of 50-state genetically modified organism (GMO) labeling policies.

The coalition is also pushing to entrust the nation’s foremost food safety agency, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with the appropriate authority to review the safety of new GMO technology and, if necessary, the need for any labeling of products made with GMOs.

“GMOs go a long way in helping farmers and ranchers provide consumers the safe, abundant and affordable food they deserve,” said Andrew Walmsley, AFBF biotechnology specialist.  “With Congress addressing GMO labeling and reaffirming the Food and Drug Administration’s role as the nation’s foremost authority on the use and labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients, consumers will be able to feel more confident in the safety of American food.”

The GMO labeling ballot initiatives and legislation that many state lawmakers and voters are facing are making people wrongly fear what they’re eating and feeding their children.  They also undermine the public’s understanding of the many benefits of biotechnology, such as the reduction in pesticides needed when certain GM seeds are used.

“Unless Congress takes on the issue, we’ll have a patchwork of state laws that serve no one but regulators and attorneys,” Walmsley said.  “We need an approach that will work for consumers and farmers and ranchers alike.”

The coalition is calling on Capitol Hill lawmakers to require the FDA to conduct a safety review of all new GMO traits before they are introduced into commerce and empower the agency to mandate the labeling of GMO food ingredients if the agency determines there is a health, safety or nutrition issue with an ingredient derived from a GMO.

In addition, the labeling legislation should direct the FDA to establish federal standards for companies that want to voluntarily label their product for the absence-of or presence-of GMO food ingredients so that consumers clearly understand their choices in the marketplace, according to the coalition.

“With the global population expected to grow from 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050, we will need 70 percent more food production to keep pace, and we won’t come close to that without GMOs,” Walmsley cautioned.  “There is too much at stake to allow our nation’s food safety and labeling laws to be set by political campaigns or state and local legislatures.”

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