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GMO Push in Senate Appears Stalled

Hoosier Ag Today by: Andy Eubank

GMO Senate update

Non GMO labelIt has been nearly two-months since the U.S. Senate sidelined a GMO voluntary labeling bill and there is no sign of a deal in the works, according to Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley. He is unaware of any recent attempt to resurrect voluntary labeling after the bill stalled in the Senate on a procedural vote in March.

“I haven’t heard any talk about it,” he said. “I haven’t heard any suggestions from Roberts that he’s working on anything right now, although he isn’t one to give up. But I think the well has gone dry for ideas.”

The bill by Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Pat Roberts failed to secure even a simple majority on a vote requiring a supermajority, making it exceedingly tough to bring the measure back for consideration without major changes that could further erode GOP support in a bid to pick up votes from Democrats.

Most Republicans and farm groups oppose the Democrats’ insistence of a mandatory GMO labeling bill. Grassley claims that without a deal, food makers will be caught in a catch-22 situation among states.

“If Maine and Connecticut and Massachusetts move forward with bills that are a great different than Vermont’s, that may force a realization on people that are against GMO’s that you really can’t expect national food processors and packagers and distributors to distribute a different label in Massachusetts than you would in Connecticut.”

Major food makers, including Kellogg’s, Campbell’s Soup and others, plan to meet the Vermont law that takes effect July first. Several firms are already using generic non-GMO labels. With a narrow legislative calendar in a highly-politicized election year, it seems increasingly unlikely Senate leadership will bring the voluntary bill back up without a new bipartisan approach.

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