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    Food Labeling Act Clears House Ag Committee

    Industry cheers bill’s progress; pushes for congressional action

    As expected, the passage of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act by the House Committee on Agriculture has earned accolades from the grocery industry. The bill, initiated by U.S. Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), aims to establish a federal uniform labeling standard for foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and also for GMO-free foods.

    Calling the committee's vote "further evidence of the growing support and momentum in Congress for this bill," Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), encouraged "the full House to pass it before the August recess." Added Bailey: "This critically important bipartisan legislation will ensure that Americans have accurate, consistent information about their food rather than a 50 state patchwork of labeling laws that will only prove costly and confusing for consumers, farmers and food manufacturers."

    Bailey's opinion was shared by Claire Parker, spokeswoman for the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food (CFSAF), which says it represents "the entire American agriculture food chain – from farm to fork" on the issue of GMOs, and includes many industry groups, including GMA. "Today’s committee approval of this legislation is a strong sign of the support for national food labeling legislation that gives consumers the information they want in a truthful, consistent manner," affirmed Parker.

    Noting that his organization "appreciates the leadership provided by Reps. Pompeo and Butterfield to move this legislation forward on a bipartisan basis," Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of the Arlington, Va.-based National Grocers Association (NGA), observed: "We applaud the House Agriculture Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee for its efforts to implement a federal legislative solution to address the patchwork of state regulations that are driving up the cost of food and creating major logistical complications for food distributors. We believe that a uniform and voluntary standard, regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), will ensure that GMO labeling of food products is consistent and transparent to consumers nationwide." 

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