Chairman Conaway statement on Senate failure to advance bioengineered food labeling legislation
Washington, March 16, 2016
Washington, D.C. - Today, House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) issued the following statement in response to the Senate’s failure to advance critical bioengineered food labeling legislation.
"The House Agriculture Committee has been working for months to promote bipartisan solutions to the problems confronting American agriculture. We have listened to our constituents, engaged in deliberate public debate, and proceeded doing the jobs we were elected to do.
"My good friend Pat Roberts along with many members of his Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry have been true leaders. They have attempted countless times to do the work of the Senate but have been hampered at every step by an uncompromising and inflexible group of minority party Senators.
"Make no mistake, it's not Republicans these Senators have opposed, it's the American farmer and rancher. Enough is enough. Americans are tired of viewing a broken system that refuses compromise at the behest of extreme views be it on the left or the right. These Senators have refused to move from their position calling for a mandatory warning label for products of biotechnology. They have chosen to side with activists who have publicly acknowledged their objective is to stigmatize a safe and valuable tool for America’s farmers and ranchers.
"There are many marketing techniques available to provide consumers with information about the products they choose to purchase. Biotechnology is not an issue of safety. Therefore, government mandated warning labels having nothing to do with product safety and serve no purpose other than to disparage one product over another. These Senators cannot continue to say that they are advocates for America’s farmers and ranchers when they consistently oppose those who provide the food we eat and the clothes on our backs.
"Today, no thanks to this small group, the Senate defeated a motion to conclude debate on legislation to establish a standard for marketing products of agricultural biotechnology. Due to these actions, interstate commerce will be severely threatened; small, family-owned food companies face penalties that include a $1,000 per day, per product fine should their products intentionally or unintentionally cross into Vermont’s borders; America's farmers will lose access to vital technologies; and our ability to continue to provide the world’s safest, most abundant and affordable food supply will be threatened.
"Today does not need to be a bad day for American Agriculture. I call on the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Ranking Member to fulfill her responsibility by standing up for America’s farmers and ranchers. This issue cannot be resolved so long as it is viewed as a zero-sum game.”