- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—MORRIS — Grundy County farmers, along with farmers throughout the United States, might have a choice when it comes to labeling their crops as a “genetically modified organism.”

The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, H.R. 1599, passed the U.S. House Thursday with a vote of 275 in favor to 150 opposed. The act would create a uniform GMO labeling throughout the United States, as opposed to having each state make its own laws regarding crops that cross state lines as product goes from the field to market. It also keeps the labeling voluntary, instead of creating an unfunded mandate.

“Being voluntary will create a consumer choice,” Grundy County Farm Bureau Manager Tasha Bunting said. “Consumers can purchase what they are comfortable with for their family.”

She said the labeling will give farmers a chance to go into another niche market, like organic farmers have done with the organic label.

The Illinois Farm Bureau is pleased with the passage of the act, according to a news release.

“The bill will help to bring greater clarity to food labeling for American consumers by removing the current patchwork system of wide-ranging and diverse state labels on foods,” IFB President Richard Guebert said in the news release.

He said in addition to the bill stopping states and local governments from imposing mandatory labels on food products that contain GMOs, it also defines the term “natural” in food labeling.

The bill is not law yet, as the U.S. Senate has not approved it yet. It was received in the Senate and read twice before being referred Friday to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

If the act becomes law, it will set up a USDA certification process and label for companies that wish to voluntarily label their products.

“We urge the Senate to follow the House’s lead and pass similar legislation which creates national labeling standards,” Guebert said.

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association said in a news release that the legislation will establish a uniform, science-based labeling framework for foods made with genetically modified organisms while preventing the costly effects of a patchwork of state GMO labeling mandates.

“We believe that any labeling requirements should come from the FDA so that every company is operating under the same guidelines,” Mark Denzler, vice president and chief operating officer of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, said in the news release.

“Without a federal standard, states will be allowed to pursue their own state-by-state rules related to labeling requirements creating a huge burden for Illinois food manufacturers that sell products both in-state and out-of-state. These production modification costs will trickle down to our grocery stores and ultimately the consumer.”

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(c)2015 the Morris Daily Herald (Morris, Ill.)

Visit the Morris Daily Herald (Morris, Ill.) at www.morrisdailyherald.com

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