The giants of the U.S. food industry who have spent millions fighting state-by-state efforts to mandate new labels for genetically modified organisms are taking a page from their opponents and pushing for a federal GMO law.
But the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents such food and beverage leaders as ConAgra, PepsiCo and Kraft, isn’t exactly joining the anti-GMO movement. It’s advocating for an industry-friendly, law with a voluntary federal standard — a move that food activists see as a power grab by an industry that has tried to kill GMO labeling initiatives every step of the way.
The most powerful players in the food industry say they are simply trying to find a national solution for GMO labeling, rather than having to navigate a patchwork of dozens of state laws for every packaged food item on the grocery shelf. According to a discussion draft of GMA’s proposed bill obtained by POLITICO, labeling standards would not be mandatory and the industry would submit to more FDA oversight.
The draft provides the first concrete look of what the food industry is asking for from Congress.
The push for a softer national standard on GMO labeling comes as consumer interest in biotech foods has blown up into an intense national conversation, and the food industry is clearly trying to get out ahead of a strong, vocal movement pushing strict labeling requirements in multiple states around the country.
“We believe that it’s important for Congress to engage and provide FDA with the ability to have a national standard” on GMO food labeling, Louis Finkel, head of government affairs for GMA, said. “A 50-state patchwork of regulations is irresponsible.”