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GMO bill passes key Senate test

Compromise legislation to address national GMO labeling has passed a key test. The U.S. Senate today voted 65-32 to invoke cloture on the bill, which is expected to be up for a vote on final passage later this week. Supporters, including Sen. Joh...

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Compromise legislation to address national GMO labeling has passed a key test.

 

The U.S. Senate today voted 65-32 to invoke cloture on the bill, which is expected to be up for a vote on final passage later this week.

 

Supporters, including Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., says national labeling would avoid a costly patchwork of state labeling requirements for genetically modified food products.

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“We’ve worked very hard on this compromise legislation, and I think it strikes the right balance between providing information that people want about their food and not raising costs for farmers, ranchers and consumers,” Hoeven says in a news release.

 

According to the release, the bipartisan agreement:

 

 

  • Prevents a patchwork of programs that vary from state-to-state, which would add expense for consumers and producers alike.

  • Establishes a uniform national disclosure standard for human food that is or may be bioengineered. The standard will be established through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rulemaking process.

  • Requires mandatory disclosure with several options, including text on package, a symbol or a link to a website. Small food manufacturers will be allowed to use websites and telephone numbers to meet disclosure requirements, and very small manufacturers and restaurants are exempt.

  • Exempts foods in which meat, poultry and egg products are the main ingredient. The legislation prohibits the Secretary of Agriculture from considering any food product derived from an animal to be bioengineered solely because the animal may have eaten bioengineered feed.

Chip Bowling, president of the National Corn Growers Association, says in a release that his group is pleased by Wednesday’s vote.
 

“However, there is still important work that needs to be done. We urge the Senate to quickly take action and pass this legislation, Bowling says.

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Chuck Conner, president of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives,which represents more than 2,000 farmer cooperatives nationwide also praises Wednesday’s vote and urges quick passage.

Opponents, including the Organic Consumers Association, which says it represents 2 million American consumers, criticize the Senate vote. They describe the compromise legislation as the DARK, or “Deny Americans the Right to Know,” Act and say state labeling laws would better protect Americans.

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