The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food (CFSAF) and leaders of America’s agricultural and food industries are sounding the alarm that Congress needs to act immediately to pass a bipartisan solution before Vermont’s mandatory on-package labeling law goes into effect July 1.
As of today, there are only seven days left on the legislative calendar before the state law is implemented with the potential for costly and lasting effects on the nation’s food supply chain. “After today Congress only has six working days to pass legislation to stop Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling law,” said Chuck Conner, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) president and CEO, during a conference call today. “We’re not here to get between the negotiations…we’re here simply to urge these members to finish their work.”
Grocery Manufacturers Association president and CEO Pam Bailey adds that the Vermont labeling law will result in stigmatizing perfectly safe foods. “We believe these on-package labels don’t provide consumers with any useful information,” said Bailey. “They will be seen as a warning.” She says the industry advocates a SmartLabel™ Initiative that allows consumers to get all of the information they could possibly need about a product with just a smart phone.
Leslie Sarasin, Food Marketing Institute president and CEO, says a state patchwork of labeling laws will be confusing to consumers. “Vermont’s law and those expected to come from Maine, Massachusetts and other states in that region will quickly make New England’s labeling laws so fragmented that a simple granola bar would be required to be labeled five different ways,” she said.
“The lack of Senate action to find and pass compromise will have serious negative consequences for our nation’s farmers,” said American Soybean Association CEO Steve Censky. “Markets for the crops our farmers are growing today will be lost and the value of farmers’ crops will be diminished.”
Conner described the final negotiations in the Senate as being “within inches” of agreement and they are hoping action will be taken today.
Listen to comments from all the above representatives here: Press call with CFSAF