A bill that would create a federal labeling standard for foods containing genetically modified ingredients will be back up for debate this week in the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.
The first version of the bill was introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., last year. The 2015 version has a few revisions, including details on a certification for non-bioengineered foods and USDA-accredited non-GMO certification process. Pompeo's office says the bill works to circumvent state GMO labeling laws that could ultimately create confusing standards across the U.S.
According to bill co-sponsor Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., the varying standards across states could cost an average family about $500 per year.
Ahead of the hearing, opposing group the Center for Food Safety is bringing attention to the 2015 bill, suggesting that it represents an expansion in regulation from the previous version by including a new provision that would make it unlawful for states to restrict GE crops.
The group says the bill would weaken regulation of GE crops and "undemocratically nullify GE crop regulations that have existed in numerous counties across the country for over a decade."
CFS calls the bill the "Denying Americans the Right to Know Act" or DARK Act.
A coalition of ag groups supporting the measure, however, said last week that changes to the 2015 bill will actually "ensure the legislation can gain even broader support."
"Momentum is clearly growing behind this legislation, which would provide a needed federal solution to the patchwork of state GMO labeling laws that would only serve to raise the price of groceries and mislead consumers," said a statement from the group, the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food.
Spokesperson for the group Claire Parker said the bill, which includes plans for a USDA-administered GMO labeling program similar to the successful National Organics Program, comes at the right time. The first state GMO labeling law is set to go into effect next year in Vermont though it is facing legal challenges.
GMO cultivation laws also facing legal issues are on the books in two Oregon counties.
Nine Republicans and 8 Democrats support the bill. The "A National Framework for the Review and Labeling of Biotechnology in Food" hearing is scheduled for June 18 at 10 a.m. ET and can be streamed online.
Catch a recap of what the subcommittee's members and invited witnesses had to say about the bill and GMO labeling regulation in a previous hearing last December.
Are you interested in the GMO discussion? Penton Farm Progress Special Projects Editor Holly Spangler explores GE foods, GMO labeling and the genetically modified food debate in an exclusive series. Follow the links below for more.