Legislation to establish a voluntary labeling standard for foods and beverages made with genetically modified ingredients will provide clarity for consumers who have GMO concerns, a National Association of Wheat Growers official says.
No commercialized GMO wheat is available, but many products that wheat goes into do contain GMOs, said Will Stafford, director of government affairs for trade, transportation and commodity markets for the association.
“We think this helps provide clarity and helps inform customers that may have concerns about GMOs,” Stafford said. “It also provides consistency throughout the entire country by establishing the FDA standard for labeling.”
The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act was recently proposed by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., and Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C.
NAWG is part of the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, which includes 35 member organizations.
According to the coalition, the proposal would establish the Food and Drug Administration as the sole authority on food safety and labeling requirements, avoiding “an expensive and confusing patchwork” of state-by-state labeling laws.
The act would require the FDA to approve all genetically modified ingredients before they are brought to market and set a federal standard for the labeling definition of “natural” foods, the coalition says.
“As a coalition, we’re trying to be very open and transparent through this process,” Stafford said.
The wheat industry is committed to biotechnology as a potential tool for farmers in the future, Stafford said.
The act could help increase support for GMOs, Stafford said.
“It advances food safety,” he said. “It helps consumers make sense of GMO labeling claims.”
Stafford expects the bill to go before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in hearings this summer.
“I think it’s definitely got a good shot,” he said, pointing to bipartisan support in Congress and from food and agriculture companies and organizations.