Congress skeptical of benefits of mandatory GMO labeling law

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The food industry is likely to find a receptive Congress come January in its fight against mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods.

Republicans and Democrats on a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee questioned Wednesday whether requiring a label on any packaged food including genetically modified organisms — or foods grown from seeds engineered in labs — would be misleading to consumers since there is little scientific evidence that such foods are unsafe. The food industry has made a similar argument.

NOTE: For additional background, read Food Safety NewsCongressional Hearing Looks at FDA’s Role in GE Food Regulation

Congress has shown increasing interest in getting involved in the labeling debate as the food industry has faced a potential patchwork of state laws requiring it. The hearing previewed GOP efforts to push legislation next year that would reaffirm that such food labels are voluntary, overriding any state laws that require them.

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Rep. Henry Waxman of California, the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, said he is concerned that labeling could be “inherently misleading.”

Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, who will replace the retiring Waxman as the committee’s top Democrat, said: “If the labeling could result in higher food costs, then maybe that’s not a risk we want to take,” he said.

Scott Faber, head of the national Just Label It campaign, testified that consumers want to know what they are buying and how the food was produced. He said advocates are not seeking a warning label, but a “factual, non-judgmental disclosure” on the back of all food packages that contain GMO ingredients.

Read full, original articleCongress not inclined to support GMO labels

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