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Senate Ag Panel Leaders Agree On Compromise GMO Labeling Bill
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The chairman of and top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday reached what they called a bipartisan agriculture biotechnology labeling compromise solution.
“This bipartisan agreement is an important path forward that represents a true compromise. Since time is of the essence, we urge our colleagues to move swiftly to support this bill,” US Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), the committee’s chairman, and US Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the panel’s top Democrat, said in a joint statement.
The compromise legislation was praised by, among others, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food (CFSAF), but was criticized by Consumers Union.
The compromise legislation would require the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish a national disclosure standard for bioengineered foods.
Not later than two years after the date of enactment of the legislation, USDA would have to establish a national mandatory bioengineered food disclosure standard with respect to any bioengineered food and any food that may be bioengineered.
This regulation promulgated by USDA would:
• Prohibit a food derived from an animal to be considered a bioengineered food solely because the animal consumed feed produced from, containing, or consisting of a bioengineered substance;
• Determine the amounts of a bioengineered substance that may be present in food, as appropriate, in order for the food to be a bioengineered food;
• Establish a process for requesting and granting a determination by USDA regarding other factors and conditions under which a food is considered a bioengineered food;
• Require that the form of a food disclosure be a text, symbol, or electronic or digital link, but excluding websites not embedded in the link, with the disclosure option to be selected by the food manufacturer;
• Provide alternative reasonable disclosure options for food contained in small or very small packages;
• In the case of small food manufacturers, provide an implementation date that is not earlier than one year after the implementation date for regulations promulgated under the legislation; and on-package disclosure options, in addition to those available for large companies, to be selected by the small food manufacturer, that consist of a telephone number and a website; and
• Exclude food served in a restaurant or similar retail food establishment, and very small food manufacturers.
For the purpose of regulations promulgated and food disclosures made pursuant to this legislation, a bioengineered food that has successfully completed the pre-market federal regulatory review process could not be treated as safer than, or not as safe as, a non-bioengi
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