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Missouri's agriculture and food sectors urge national labeling standard for GMO foods

Published 12 October 2015

Representatives of Missouri's agriculture and food sectors came to Capitol Hill Wednesday to urge passage by Congress of a uniform, national labeling standard for foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

With Vermont set to implement its own labeling standard next July and other states passing or considering their own labeling mandates, participants in the fly-in expressed the urgency to get a federal bill passed this fall in order to stave off the negative effects of a patchwork of differing state labeling laws.

A uniform, national food labeling standard will ensure that consumers in all 50 states have access to the same labeling information, bringing consistency and transparency to the marketplace. Additionally, a GMO-free certification program will provide consumers who choose to purchase non-GMO items a reliable means of doing so.

The fly-in, organized by the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, featured men and women from 22 states who represent the entirety of the nation's food supply chain: farming groups, co-ops, seed producers and food companies. In total, the group had more than 140 meetings on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

Participants in the fly-in expressed the urgent need for action by the Senate soon on the critical issue.

Missouri farmers rely on GMOs to help them grow more crops on less land while using fewer pesticides, less irrigation and limiting greenhouse gas emissions. In 2014, 93 percent of the corn, 91 percent of the soybeans and 96 percent of the cotton grown in Missouri were genetically modified.

"Soybeans are a two-billion-dollar industry in Missouri and different state GMO labeling mandates would hurt hardworking farmers across that state," said the executive director of the Missouri Soybean Association, Gary Wheeler. "As I explained to members of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, inconsistent state labels would wreak havoc on Missouri farms. We need Congress to pass a reasonable solution that provides transparency and consistency for farmers and consumers."

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act in July by a significant 275-150 bipartisan vote, with 45 Democrats voting yes. That legislation would ensure that consumers have access to the same science-based information regardless of which state they shop in instead of different state mandates. It would also create a national GMO-free certification program that would provide consumers who prefer GMO-free foods a consistent means of identifying those products.

The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food is committed to passing a reasonable, common sense labeling standard this fall and will continue to advocate for food labeling policies that keep prices down and provide reliable and consistent science-based information.

Source: Company Press Release