ARLINGTON, VA – The National Milk Producers Federation joined a group of more than 1,000 agriculture, business and food companies today in urging the Senate to pass legislation that would create a uniform, federal system for labeling foods produced using biotechnology. NMPF and its 31 member cooperatives were among the 1,065 signers of the letter, as were dozens of dairy food companies and state dairy farm associations.
The letter, addressed to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), was sent by the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food, of which NMPF is a member. It said the issue of biotech food labeling was “one of the most significant issues that the agriculture and food industry has faced in recent years,” and urged the leaders to take up the bill immediately.
The Senate measure, negotiated by Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) of the Senate Agriculture Committee, would preempt state laws such as the Vermont measure, and establish clear and consistent guidelines for how companies should disclose the presence of ingredients and foods made with biotechnology.
“The Senate approach provides information to consumers without inappropriately stigmatizing agricultural biotechnology in the process,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF. “We need the Senate and the House of Representatives to establish a clear federal policy for the labeling of foods made with biotechnology, and we need them to act quickly on the matter.”
A federal policy would help food producers avoid the higher economic costs of having several, different state labeling laws that would directly affect consumers, farmers and the entire food value chain, the letter said. “A Vermont-style on-pack only labeling mandate would mislead consumers and drive up their grocery bills.”
Food ingredients made using biotechnology have been proven safe by more than 2,000 studies from leading scientific bodies worldwide. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have all reaffirmed their long-standing recognition of the safety of the technology.