Washington, D.C.-The House of Representatives passed the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 (H.R. 1599) on July 23. The bill, which would create a federal voluntary GMO labeling system and over-ride state legislation mandating GMO labeling, was passed by a vote of 275 to 150. 

H.R. 1599 was authored by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and was approved by the House Agriculture Committee on July 14, 2015, by voice vote.

"Unfortunately, proposed Federal and State laws threaten this innovation by generating a patchwork of differing labeling requirements, which will result in inconsistent and confusing information for consumers and interfere with interstate commerce. H.R. 1599 establishes a voluntary nation-wide marketing program that gives consumers access to consistent, reliable information while protecting advancements in food production technology and innovation,” said Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-TX), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, in an official statement.

The latest version of H.R. 1599 can be read here. According to the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), this bill has evolved since it was first introduced and includes some proposals the association and others have advocated for. The group stated in an email communication, "AHPA continues to advocate for a federal policy modeled after the National Organic Program that would also enable companies to voluntarily disclose the absence of GMO ingredients in foods and supplements. As AHPA proposed, the bill would also recognize products that comply with the National Organic Program (NOP) as eligible for non-GMO labeling (rather than having to go through a separate evaluation). AHPA's proposal doesn't include federal preemption of state GMO labeling efforts and the requirements to qualify for a non-GMO label would be more stringent under AHPA's suggested policy. AHPA will continue its advocacy efforts as the bill moves to the Senate."

In a previous interview, Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., CEO and executive director of the Natural Products Association, also expressed a similar statement regarding organic. "What we're going to push for is some recognition of organic as non-GMO. We think that's incredibly important," Fabricant stated.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, September 2015(online 7/24/15)