President Obama Signs S 764 Into Law- Preempting Vermont's GMO Labeling Law and Starting Clock on USDA to Write National GMO Labeling PlanSat, 30 Jul 2016 11:40:27 CDT
Without fanfare, President Barack Obama signed into law S 764, the bill that cleared the Senate and the House over the past two months that directs the USDA to create a rule for mandatory disclosure and labeling for foods with ingredients from genetically engineered crops. The White House announced that the President had signed a total of 20 bills on Friday, including the GMO Labeling Bill. There was no statement about the measure except for a brief description of the new law- "S. 764, which directs the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a national mandatory bioengineered food disclosure standard."
After the House passed a voluntary version of this proposal a year ago, Senate Democrats refused to accept their language- and it took months of negotiating by Senate Ag Committee Chairman Pat Roberts with his ranking minority member, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, to come to the language that quickly cleared the Senate in June and then the House earlier in July. The measure will preempt the Vermont state law on labeling of food containing ingredients produced with GMO crops- and will also override other states which were working on their own version of labeling in recent months. The signing of the bill into law starts a two year clock on USDA to write and implement a new national standard on labeling.
Opponents of the Labeling Bill were furious- and did a petition campaign on the White House website, gathering over a hundred thousand signatures asking President Obama to veto the measure, but those efforts were seen as too little, too late as the President had earlier signaled to Senate and House leaders he would sign the compromise bill. One group that has opposed the national efforts to establish a GMO labeling plan is FoodDemocracyNow- and their Executive Director, Dave Murphy, released a statement on Friday afternoon that his group is exploring a legal challenge against the measure.
Several agricultural groups quickly praised the Congress and the President for getting this bill across the finish line.
One of the first statements seen came from Zippy Duvall, President, American Farm Bureau Federation:
“President Obama’s signature today will put a stop to the harmful patchwork of state GMO labeling laws and set in place a uniform, national disclosure system that will provide balanced, accurate information to consumers. For decades, biotechnology has made it possible for farmers to grow safe and healthful crops while reducing their environmental impact. We are pleased that Congress and the administration have moved swiftly to prevent consumer confusion and protect agricultural innovation.”
American Soybean Association President Richard Wilkins, a soybean farmer from Greenwood, Del. applauded the President with the following statement:
“The American Soybean Association congratulates and thanks President Obama for today signing into law the bipartisan GMO compromise bill. This law will provide stability in the marketplace for both producers and consumers, while avoiding a messy patchwork of state laws. We are happy to put this fight behind us, and continue to provide safe, affordable food for the American people, just as we have for generations.”
"We are grateful to President Obama for swiftly signing into law a bill that is crucial for American farmers and consumers," said National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling. "His signature brings consistency to the marketplace and prevents the negative ramifications of conflicting state and national food labeling standards."
NCGA, working with partners across the value chain, has pushed for a solution to this issue for more than two years now as a member of the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food.
"We are pleased to have been part of a coalition of more than 1,100 agricultural and food groups representing the entirety of our national food supply system, from farm to fork, in coming together to advocate for a bipartisan solution," Bowling added. "We look forward to continuing our work with the coalition to ensure that, as the law enters the rule making process at USDA, implementation remains in line with Congressional intent."
John Wilson, the Senior Vice President and Chief Fluid Marketing Officer for Dairy Farmers of America released the following statement:
“Today marks a significant victory for agriculture producers as well as consumers with President Barack Obama signing into law a federal framework for the labeling of genetically modified (GM) foods.
"This bill provides one uniform, national standard for the labeling of GM foods so every consumer in the United States, not just Vermont, can have easy access to information about the food they purchase.
"We support the sound science behind GMs and the increased productivity and sustainability they have afforded the nation and the world. This bill allows consumers the choice and opportunity to have a greater understanding about the food our nation’s farmers provide.
"We would like to thank the president, the House of Representatives and the champions of the legislation, specifically Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas and Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, for their leadership in this effort.”
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