The NGFA joined 47 other agricultural producer, agribusiness and food trade associations in strongly opposing a Senate farm bill amendment that would have given states the right to mandate labeling of biotechnology-enhanced food, feed and feed ingredients. The amendment, sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., lost by a 26-73 margin. The NGFA and other organizations opposed to the measure stressed that it was not an amendment to enhance food or feed safety, but rather one designed to provide a marketing advantage for non-genetically enhanced foods in the minds of some consumers. "The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) current science-based policy requires labeling only when foods produced through biotechnology are changed in any way relevant to health, safety or nutrition, such as when a known allergen is introduced through the process," the groups wrote. "In addition, FDA has guidelines that companies can use in making voluntary claims regarding products produced with, or without, the use of biotechnology. This, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's organic standards, ensure that consumers can make choices based on information that is consistent and accurate."
The organizations also stressed the costs that would be imposed on the food and feed system if the amendment were to be adopted, including the repackaging and relabeling of products that might contain biotech-enhanced ingredients. "Complex recordkeeping and labeling mandates for businesses would be astronomical, and previous analyses of similar proposals have shown these costs would be passed on to consumers," the NGFA and other groups said. "Millions of dollars in unfunded mandates also would be passed on to state governments that would be asked to enforce new rules and regulations."