Klobuchar, Franken to support GMO labeling bill
WASHINGTON -- Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota will support a compromise food labeling bill that, if passed and signed into law, will require disclosure on food packages of the presence of genetically modified organisms, known as GMOs.
WASHINGTON - Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota will support a compromise food labeling bill that, if passed and signed into law, will require disclosure on food packages of the presence of genetically modified organisms, known as GMOs. Franken and Klobuchar announced their decisions Wednesday as the Senate prepared to debate the legislation.
Both voted against an earlier labeling law which did not provide for mandatory national on-package GMO disclosure.
The new legislation "will help consumers know what's in their food, which is why I'll be supporting it," Franken said in a statement, "It's not a perfect bill, but unlike the previous version of this legislation - which I opposed - this compromise includes a mandatory federal labeling standard, which I strongly believe is necessary for this to work. The National Academy of Sciences and other respected scientific bodies - that have thoroughly studied the research on this issue - has said that GMO foods are safe to eat, but we should give people the information they want about their food. I believe this accomplishes that."
In a statement, Klobuchar said the new legislation creates "a national mandatory labeling standard" that avoids "subjecting our entire food supply to a patchwork of state laws."
"Minnesota will go from having no labeling to mandatory labeling - either on the package or on your smartphone," she said. "Consumers will have the information they need to make decisions about feeding themselves and their families."
The federal law, which the Senate was expected to consider later Wednesday, would supersede the first state law mandating GMO disclosure. The Vermont law took effect July 1. The federal law also bans all other state labeling laws. The federal law will take two years to implement, a point of contention among supporters and opponents who say consumers deserve information now.
The bill that Franken and Klobuchar support is clearly a compromise between Republicans and Democrats. It has drawn the ire of some consumer groups and the support of others. Questions surrounding the bill include its definitions of genetically engineered contents and its two-year phase-in. Critics also decry the ability of companies to use a smartphone scan code to signal the presence of GMOs, saying words or symbols on food packages are less confusing.
Opponents of the law demonstrated outside both senators’ Minnesota offices in the past week.
The food industry, which battled for years against mandatory on-package GMO labels, has been generally supportive of the compromise. It was negotiated by Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, and ranking minority member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.
Stabenow came to the Senate floor ahead of the formal debate to ask colleagues for support.
Stabenow said she was "opposed to voluntary labeling at every turn." She said Congress should not take steps to pre-empt state laws requiring GMO disclosure without providing a national mandate.