After hearing debate on National Ag Day, the Senate is set to vote today on legislation proposed by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) to provide a voluntary national standard for foods containing genetically modified ingredients as well as an incentive to provide more information on biotechnology to consumers.
During his floor speech on the Biotechnology Labeling Solutions bill, Roberts stressed the pressing need for Congress to act now to avoid a patchwork of biotechnology labeling laws from state to state. “What we’re facing today is not a safety or health issue – despite claims by my colleagues on the Senate floor,” said Roberts. “It is a market issue. This is really a conversation about a few states dictating to every state the way food moves from farmers to consumers in the value chain.”
The legislation creates a national voluntary standard that would become mandatory only if the marketplace fails to provide consumers with enough information, holding the marketplace accountable while providing companies with incentives to disclose more information about how food is produced. “Simply put, the legislation before us provides an immediate and comprehensive solution to the unworkable state-by-state patchwork of labeling laws,” he concluded.
Listen to Roberts’ floor speech here: [wpaudio url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/zimmcomm/senate-gmo-roberts.mp3″ text=”Sen. Roberts’ GMO labeling bill”]
Roberts praised the bipartisan support of those on the Senate Ag Committee who voted to approve the bill, but Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) was not one of them. She and Roberts both attended a pre-Ag Day event Monday evening sponsored by Agri-Pulse, where Stabenow talked about the difficulty of reaching agreement on the issue while acknowledging that something needs to be done. “To bring stability to agriculture, to make sure we don’t have 50 different laws in different states, to make sure that we don’t stigmatize biotechnology,” said Stabenow. “Regardless of how we thread the needle to get this done, we can no longer sit back and not tell the story of biotechnology.”
Listen to her remarks here: [wpaudio url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/zimmcomm/agripulse-16-stabenow.mp3″ text=”Sen. Stabenow at Agri-Pulse event”]