On June 18, 2015, the United States House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on House Bill 1599, regarding the implementation of a national framework for the labeling of foods containing genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).
House Bill 1599 would create a voluntary labeling standard for foods containing GMOs. The bill would require USDA certification for a product to be labeled as non-GMO as well as requiring FDA safety approval for new genetically engineered traits in crops and products. The bill would also preempt any individual state laws regarding GMO labeling, such as Vermont’s mandatory labeling law.
Testimony was heard from both proponents and opponents of the bill. One proponent of House Bill 1599 stated that a national framework would protect farmers and agricultural cooperatives from a “hodgepodge of rules” that would be “unworkable.” Another testified that compliance with Vermont’s law is “really a nightmare” for manufacturers, requiring either product reformulation or creation of a separate line of product labeling for the state. One proponent even testified that GMO labeling is meaningless, as all food products have been altered from their original state, stating that “it is a process, not a product.”
One opponent of the bill stated that the lack of a new safety approval process through the FDA leaves safety determinations in the hands of companies. Another opponent testified that by preempting state laws, the bill interferes with the role of states “as laboratories of democracy to develop novel…experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”
To watch the full hearing, click here.
Written by Tyler R. Etter- Research Assistant
June 19, 2015