Senate Blocks Bill That Threatened Mandatory GMO Labeling

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Senate Bill 2609, otherwise known as the Biotech Labeling Solutions Act, which threatened to override mandatory GMO labeling laws such as that of Vermont, was blocked on Wednesday, March 16 by the Senate. After a procedural vote of 49 yes votes and 48 no votes, the bill did not meet the requisite 60 votes necessary to advance to the Senate.

The bill was presented by Senator Pat Roberts, R-KS, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, who claims in a press release that detractors of the bill are not doing enough to compromise on a solution to “confusing and differing biotechnology and labeling standards.” Says Roberts, “I have been flexible and have compromised in order to address concerns about making information available to consumers. Simply put, if we are to have a solution, opponents of our bill must be willing to do the same.”

Detractors call for a bill that will create a national standard for mandatory disclosure of GMOs. The bill, as it was presented, would only create a standard for voluntary disclosure. “The Roberts proposal is nothing more than the status quo for consumers who want information about the food they are purchasing,” says detractor Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry in a press release. “If the federal government is going to take away states rights, we have the obligation to create a national system of disclosure that provides information to consumers in an easily accessible way.”

With Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling law to take effect on July 1, there are sure to be further efforts to undermine mandatory disclosure.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine Online 3/16/2016