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A National Framework for the Review and Labeling of Biotechnology in Food

Washington, D.C. - Yesterday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced a hearing for June 18, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. in Rayburn 2123 entitled “A National Framework for the Review and Labeling of Biotechnology in Food.” Committee members will discuss a substitute amendment crafted jointly by the House Agriculture Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee. Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) issued the following statement upon the hearing’s announcement. 

“I am pleased with the progress made between the Committee on Agriculture and the Committee on Energy and Commerce to refine and improve the legislative language of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015. Creating a policy of national uniformity regarding marketing claims for agricultural production technologies is a priority for the Agriculture Committee. A patchwork of arbitrary and inconsistent State and local labeling laws will raise consumer costs and negatively affect our ability to enhance food safety, food quality, and environmental sustainability. Legislation to protect and promote interstate commerce in agricultural products derived through the use and non-use of plant based genetic engineering is of critical importance. As the legislative process continues, I look forward to continuing to receive input from stakeholders and technical assistance from the Department of Agriculture to ensure the final text is correct, workable, and enjoys significant bipartisan support.” 

Modern applications of biotechnology provide breakthrough products to combat debilitating and rare diseases, reduce our environmental footprint, feed the hungry, use less and cleaner energy, and have safer, cleaner and more efficient industrial manufacturing processes. Recent attempts to pass state-wide ballot initiatives to mandate warning labels on genetically engineered agricultural products have had successes in  states such as Vermont, threatening to interfere with the orderly marketing of agricultural products in interstate commerce. Federal legislation is needed to provide a consistent, uniform standard for labeling of genetically engineered products.  H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 was introduced on March 25th and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and the House Committee on Agriculture.  Since that time, the Committees have engaged in discussions to further develop the legislation.