1. This thing is going to move fast: It’s bipartisan, it’s got 106 co-sponsors (91 Republicans, 15 Democrats), it’s got Big Food and Big Agriculture firmly behind it, and could be up for a floor vote next week – this could be law by the end of 2015.
2. The speed at which this moves means that any opposition to the bill must also move fast, but can the various factions unite to make their voice heard? Opponents are pushing the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), with identical bills introduced in the House and the Senate. The House version has 50 co-sponsors (49 Democrats and 1 Republican), while the Senate version has 14 co-sponsors (13 Democrats and 1 Independent).
3. The dietary supplements industry is divided on this issue. UNPAs oppose the Act. AHPA has taken no position on the Pompeo bill but has expressed opposition to federal preemption and to labeling of foods that contain GMO ingredients as “natural” or with any similar term and has called for any GMO-labeling legislation to recognize NOP certified organic foods as “non-GMO,” and is advocating for legislation modeled on the OFPA. The NPA membership includes a wide-range of opinion so no position has been reached, according to Dr Daniel Fabricant. CRN has not publicly stated a position.
4. Critics are calling it the DARK Act (“Denying Americans the Right-to-Know”) because it allows for only voluntary labeling of GMOs (despite consumer data suggesting as much as 90% of consumers want to know) unless there is a health concern.
The nitty gritty…
5. The Act (which can be read HERE) would prevent state and local governments from mandating GMO labeling, so Vermont’s GMO labeling Act 120, for example, would become obsolete. The Act would also allow USDA to establish a program that would allow compliant food manufacturers to label “non-genetically engineered food,” including with a seal created by USDA and with interface with a certifying body.
6. The Act was amended to prohibit state and local governments from approving any new technology related to the production of genetically modified crops – this will be handled at the federal level only.
7. Labeling of a food product containing or consisting of a GM plant would only be required if two conditions are met: 1. There is “a meaningful difference in the functional, nutritional, or compositional characteristics, allergenicity, or other attributes betweenthe food so produced and its comparable food”; and 2. The labeling is “necessary to protect public health and safety or to prevent the label or labeling of the food so produced from being false or misleading”.
8. Finally, the Act would require the FDA to issue regulations regarding natural claims, and the agency has to deliver that no later than 30 months after the date of enactment. A natural claim includes the use of the terms ‘natural’, ‘100% natural’, ‘naturally grown’, ‘all natural’, and ‘made with natural ingredients’.
Editor's note: This article has been amended to clarify AHPA's position. We appreciate the additional information from AHPA for this article.