GMO Labeling Bill Opponents Make Their Case

Now that Senate negotiators have finalized the text of a GMO labeling bill, efforts now turn to getting the bill through Capitol Hill’s upper chamber. But opponents to the measure are also digging in their heels to try and stop any progress it might make.

Senate Agriculture Committee chair and Kansas Republican Pat Roberts said on Tuesday that he’s still holding out hope for a vote this week. He added that he’s still gathering support, but he thinks the bill has the necessary 60 votes.

Two Senators who almost certainly will not be voting in favor took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to express their displeasure with the agreement. Vermont Democrat and former Senate ag committee chair Patrick Leahy said he doesn’t think the bill goes far enough…

“Now while this proposal makes some positive, though modest improvements, I remain deeply concerned, it doesn’t offer transparency for consumers.  Transparencies many companies have already offered to provide.”           

The bill would allow for disclosure with QR codes, a website, or a phone number rather than the on-package labeling required by the Vermont GMO labeling bill. Leahy says he can’t get behind the bill in its current form…

“I simply cannot support this proposal.  I don’t support it.  I’m not saying that you can’t have genetically modified foods, it’s just…let consumers know, they can decide whether to buy it or not.”   

Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley said the method of disclosure will put the burden on the consumer, something he says is a sham…

“That a shopper is going to go down the isle of the grocery store, and say  I want to know the status of these various options before me, and I’m going to do a call for each one of them, and stand here for 30 minutes when it could have been answered in one second?  No, of course not.  And the authors of this bill know that this is a sham.”

Advocates for the bill are hoping to get a vote on it this week. That would allow the House to quickly take the measure up when they return in July.

Vermont’s GMO labeling law is set to go into effect tomorrow.'

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.