Chairman Roberts: Biotechnology Compromise Protects Producers, Informs Consumers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today unveiled a new bipartisan proposal to protect the use of agriculture biotechnology and to ensure consumers have access to the information they want.

“Unless we act now, Vermont law denigrating biotechnology and causing confusion in the marketplace is the law of the land,” said Chairman Roberts. “Our marketplace – both consumers and producers – needs a national biotechnology standard to avoid chaos in interstate commerce.”

“In negotiations with Ranking Member Stabenow, I fought to ensure this standard recognizes the 30-plus years of proven safety of biotechnology while ensuring consumer access to more information about their food.”

“I urge my colleagues to support this approach. It is a far better alternative than Vermont’s law with its destructive ramifications up and down the supply chain.”

Click here to read the legislative text. Key provisions of the bipartisan proposal include:

  • Pre-emption: immediately prohibits states or other entities from mandating labels of food or seed that is genetically engineered.
  • National Uniform Standard: the U.S. Department of Agriculture establishes through rulemaking a uniform national disclosure standard for human food that is or may be bioengineered.
  • Disclosure: requires mandatory disclosure with several options, including text on package, a symbol, or a link to a website (QR code or similar technology); small food manufacturers will be allowed to use websites or telephone numbers to satisfy disclosure requirements; very small manufacturers and restaurants are exempted.
  • Meat: foods where meat, poultry, and egg products are the main ingredient are exempted. The legislation prohibits the Secretary of Agriculture from considering any food product derived from an animal to be bioengineered solely because the animal may have eaten bioengineered feed.

“As I have said before, I will continue to stand up for the farmers and ranchers that produce the safest and most affordable food in the world,” Roberts said. “I will not ignore the overwhelming science that has determined biotechnology to be safe, but with the implementation of Vermont’s disruptive law on the horizon, it is our duty to act. I urge my colleagues to join me.”