Farm bill is center of GM labeling fight

Published online: May 28, 2013
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The advocates of labeling foods possibly containing genetically modified plant ingredients are trying to attach riders to the farm bill to accomplish their goal.

The Senate on May 23 overwhelmingly rejected an amendment that would allow states to require labeling of genetically modified foods, but other GMO labeling bills are still to be debated.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), introduced the amendment as an attempt to assure that states can require such labeling, he said. Several state legislatures have labeling bills in the cue for debate or have bills that already moved out of state legislative chambers. Sanders comes from a state where the house moved toward putting such laws into place.

The U.S. Senate rejected the amendment by a 71-27 vote during debate on the next five-year farm bill. Senators from farm states stood strong, according to reports, to defeat the amendment by pointing out that most commodity crops are GM and labeling could be an excuse to raise food costs to consumers.

Sanders vowed to continue to push the GM labeling issue in Congress. He said he offered the amendment to protect states that approve labeling laws from lawsuits by major biotech companies. Senate debate on what started out to be nearly 150 total amendments will continue after the Memorial Day recess.