Tricia Braid

Mar 23, 2016  |  Today's News

In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, a member of the Senate Ag Committee, says that he doesn’t expect the Senate to take action to stop the State of Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling bill from going into effect on July 1. Illinois Corn Growers Association issued a call to action to our members on two occasions regarding this legislation. Unfortunately, all your calls did not make a difference in attaining the 60 votes needed to pass the federal legislation which would have pre-empted the state level patchwork approach.

Major food companies, in anticipation of the July 1 date, have already started changing their labels.

Senator Mark Kirk voted in favor of the IL Corn supported legislation. Senator Dick Durbin voted against it.

Grassley: GMO labeling deal unlikely before summer

WASHINGTON — Sen. Chuck Grassley said Tuesday it will be difficult for Congress to reach a bipartisan deal on labeling products containing genetically modified ingredients before Vermont's own law takes effect this summer.

Congress last week was unable to advance a bill banning states from establishing their own GMO labeling laws. Instead, it would create a voluntary program where producers could put “smart labels” on their products.

In a failed attempt the help attract enough Democratic support, the food industry would have three years to bring 70 percent of its products into compliance or the Agriculture Department would be allowed to make the labeling requirement mandatory.

“It’s going to be very difficult to get such a bipartisan agreement, and I wouldn’t be surprised that what you are going to find (is) some food companies that think the business for 600,000 people in Vermont is probably not worth it, and they’ll quit doing business there,” Grassley told reporters.

Congress is scrambling to get some type of framework in place before Vermont’s GMO labeling law takes effect in July.

If Vermont's initiative withstands a legal challenge, proponents say it could give momentum to similar measures being considered in more than a dozen other states. Officials at food companies say the cost of complying with multiple state laws would be passed on to consumers.

Grassley, an Iowa Republican, farmer and member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, described recent attempts to draft a bipartisan deal as a “careful balancing act.” Democrats largely back a mandatory labeling program, while Republicans favor a voluntary measure.

Grassley said he doesn’t think Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is going to hold another vote when Congress returns from its Easter recess, unless there are 60 votes to stop debate and advance the bill.

“If I was in his position, I wouldn’t waste the time,” he said.

With growing uncertainty over whether Congress will act and what a final agreement will look like, General Mills, Mars and other companies have announced they will place GMO labels on their products to comply with the Vermont law.

Consumer groups have called it a victory for the public’s right to know about what is in the foods they eat.

“Mars has read the writing on the wall,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director with the Center for Food Safety. "The state of Vermont’s mandatory labeling law and last week’s defeat of the (labeling) act are clear indicators that consumers want to be informed and deserve to be able to make informed choices.”