With Vermont's biotechnology food labeling law about to take effect in July, the National Milk Producers Federation today urged Congress to take immediate action to establish a federal standard that would preempt state GMO food labeling mandates.
At its summer meeting today, the NMPF Board of Directors expressed its concern that, despite months of negotiation in the Senate, Congress still has not acted to establish a uniform national disclosure policy that provides consumers with clear and consistent information on food biotechnology.
In a resolution adopted at Wednesday's meeting, NMPF's board voiced concern that if the Vermont law goes into effect, other states may adopt similar approaches. The Vermont law is already causing disruptions in the marketplace, even before it takes effect, and a further worsening of this situation will severely harm farmers by threatening the continued utilization of agricultural biotechnology, according to NMPF.
"Plants produced through biotechnology not only are completely safe for consumers, they also improve our environment by reducing energy, water and pesticide use," said Randy Mooney, Chairman of NMPF and a dairy farmer from Rogersville, Missouri. "Farmers have overwhelmingly adopted these crop technologies because they increase productivity while enhancing agricultural sustainability."
NMPF's Board of Directors, and its Young Cooperator national advisory council, have been visiting their elected officials this week on Capitol Hill to reinforce the need for the Senate to reach agreement on a uniform national standard – and to do so as quickly as possible. The House of Representatives has already passed its own version of a federal GMO labeling preemption, but the food industry is waiting on the Senate to act so that a single, uniform law can be implemented in 2016.
The NMPF resolution approved Wednesday also affirmed the importance of federal policy making clear that milk and meat from animals that consume GM feed are not subject to biotech labeling disclosure because the animal products are in no way genetically modified.
"There is no difference in milk or meat from cows that have consumed biotech crops, and that's why any federal labeling disclosure needs to ensure the common-sense treatment of animal feed," Mooney said.
Mooney told a hearing last month of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock that the failure by Congress to address this issue "threatens the viability not only of my farm, but also the 30,000 farmers I represent. It also threatens our ability to feed the world's growing population."