A piece of overarching federal legislation that seeks to make the labeling of genetically engineered foods and ingredients merely voluntarily successfully made it out of committee on Tuesday.
The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 passed through the House Agriculture Committee, according to The Hill, a media outlet headquartered in Washington D.C. that predominately covers congressional news.
The committee-approved bill also included an amendment to prohibit state and local governments from restricting GMO crops.
Originally introduced in the House on March 25 by republican Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas, the proposed legislation would create uniform rules on GMO labeling that eliminate state-specific rules. Under the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, providing information on GMO ingredients would only be optional.
Supporters of the bill argue it avoids the possible confusion of having unique labeling laws in each state.
The Hill reported on July 14:
The panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Collin Peterson (Minn), said the committee held a hearing in March to review mandatory biotechnology laws.
“At that hearing, I expressed hope that we could find a workable solution that would alleviate the potential mess of 50 states with 50 different labeling schemes,” he said.
Yet, those against the bill say it contradicts what the vast majority of the American public wants.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said he didn’t want to argue the science of GMOs but pointed out that more than 90 percent of Americans want to know if they are in their food.
“I know this it’s a radical idea, but why not give the American people what they want?” he said.
The entire text of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 – H.R. 1599 – is available on congress.gov.
At least 22 states have introduced legislation related to GMO labeling since the start of 2015.