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Ernst Supports National Solution on Biotechnology Labeling Laws

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a Senate Agriculture Biotechnology Labeling Solutions Markup, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) today voted in support of Committee Chairman Pat Roberts’ (R-KS) Biotechnology Labeling Solutions bill. It passed out of committee with bipartisan support and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

The bipartisan proposal creates a national solution and preempts state level efforts to mandate the labeling of food products that contain ingredients derived from biotechnology, often referred to as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Stopping the state-by-state, patchwork approach to food labeling laws prevents consumer confusion and avoids additional costs at the grocery store.

“Allowing these proposed mandates to go forward would raise food prices for those who can least afford it – those middle and low income families just trying to get by from paycheck to paycheck. In fact, one recent study showed the impact of biotech labeling mandates could raise food prices for the average household by over $1,000 per year. The legislation that passed the committee today pre-empts these state level efforts, and provides for a national voluntary standard that will not raise prices unnecessarily, disparage safe and affordable foods, or create further confusion among consumers,” said Senator Ernst.

About the Biotechnology Labeling Solutions bill:

Considerations/Iowa Impact:

  • Many food manufacturing companies have a presence in Iowa, and complying with Vermont’s law would add unnecessary costs to their operations in the form of more product SKUs, additional warehouse space, and reformulation.
  • State level labeling would increase food costs for families that can least afford it, and are not asking for this information.
  • Scientifically proven safe biotech products are grown and processed across Iowa, providing the base to over a quarter of our state’s economy.

Major highlights of the legislation:

  • Immediately: Pre-empt the Vermont law.
  • Within 2 Years: Create a voluntary national standard for foods that contain biotech.
  • Within 4 Years: Require the USDA to submit a report on the availability of information to consumers regarding the biotech content of foods.
  • Ongoing: Require the USDA and other agencies to engage consumers in education and outreach efforts on the safety and benefits of biotech.