Leadership presses for GMO labeling solution

CHS leaders joined with executives from commodities and supply chain businesses in Washington last October to urge members of Congress to preempt state genetically modified organism (GMO) labeling laws and provide greater certainty to farmers, manufacturers and consumers. Without timely action, food and agriculture companies will be forced to reformulate or relabel product lines ahead of Vermont's state mandate to label products containing GMOs by July 2016.

Carl Casale, CHS president and CEO, and Tim Skidmore, executive vice president and CFO, along with Government Affairs staff, met with U.S. Senators Joe Donnelly (D-lnd.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Al Franken (DMinn.) to press for a solution before year end. They also thanked members of Minnesota’s U.S. House of Representatives delegation for supporting the Safe, Accurate Food Labeling Act which passed the House in July.

CHS and the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food asked Congress to include preemption language in its final omnibus funding bill. Unfortunately, the provision did not gain broad enough bipartisan support to be added. Senate Agriculture committee leadership has pledged to address this critical issue when Congress returns in January.

In related action, in November the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made several significant food labeling announcements. The agency denied petitions filed by the Center for Food Safety and the Truth in Labeling Coalition that demanded FDA require food derived from GMOs to be labeled under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. In its decision, FDA affirmed its longstanding policy that there is no legal basis for mandating such disclosure on products that are essentially the same as their conventional versions. FDA acknowledged there is consumer interest in GMO labeling, but without a finding that biotech crops are materially different from their conventional counterparts, it has no reason to require labeling.

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