- The Patchwork Solidifies: GMO Bill Moves Forward in the House
- August 5, 2015
- Law Firm: Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky Popeo P.C. - Boston Office
- The proposed Federal regulation of GMOs is proceeding. Following the White House’s recent action on GMOs, Representative Pompeo’s “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act” (H.R. 1599) was passed by the House Agriculture Committee on July 14.
The Pompeo bill is an attempt to preempt a patchwork of state regulations on GMOs. More specifically, the legislation:
- Creates a uniform, national system governing the premarket review and labeling of genetically engineered foods;
- Requires FDA to conduct a safety review of all new plant varieties used for genetically engineered food before those foods are introduced into commerce;
- Upholds FDA’s authority to specify special labeling if it believes it is necessary to protect health and safety;
- Creates a new legal framework, subject to FDA oversight, governing the use of label claims regarding either the absence of, or use of, genetically engineered food or food ingredients;
- Directs FDA to develop a Federal definition for “natural” claims on product labels; and
- Allows those who wish to label their products as GMO-free to do so through a USDA-accredited certification process.
Meanwhile, Senator Hoeven (R-ND) is expected to introduce a companion bill to the Pompeo legislation shortly, although he has encountered difficulty finding a Democratic co-sponsor. The Senate bill would put emphasis on amending federal agriculture laws, not food safety laws, to preempt state labeling efforts on GMOs. It also emphasizes a USDA GMO-free certification program and delineates how USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service would oversee this effort, preempting any labeling by states that do not follow the same rules.