Texas Agriculture August 5, 2016 : Page 6

Five things to know about GMO labeling By Jessica Domel News Editor Now that national GMO labeling legislation has been passed by both the House and Senate and signed into law, many consumers and food manu-facturers alike are wondering: What does this mean for me? According to Andrew Walmsley, director of Congressional Relations for the American Farm Bureau Fed-eration (AFBF), the new law means a number of things. 1) Food manufacturers have options. There won’t be a one-size-fits-all op-tion when it comes to GMO labeling. Food companies can use an on-package sentence or symbol to signify to shoppers that genetically modi-fied materials are in the food. They can also use electronic disclosure—a QR code or smart label—that can be scanned by a smart device. “This is something that Farm Bu-reau supports and has been support-ive of because it provides an oppor-tunity to give a whole lot of different information to consumers that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to get with just an on-package symbol or state-ment,” Walmsley said. With an issue as complex as bioen-gineering, it can be difficult for food companies to provide plain, accurate information to consumers with just an on-package statement. “This is really a longer conversation to talk about the safety and benefits of ingredients that are derived through breeding techniques like bioengineer-ing,” Walmsley said. 2) Not all foods will be labeled. While the majority of foods will be labeled under the new legislation, not all products will carry one of the three types of mandatory labeling. “Those products that aren’t bio-engineered aren’t going to require a label, although we expect a lot of the food manufacturers to use a smart la-bel across all their brands and across all their products to provide informa-tion,” Walmsley said. About 80 percent of products on store shelves probably have some type of biotech ingredient. The other 20 percent may be able to use other types of labeling. “There was a piece in the legislation for those producers who are certified organic. This is a real win for them,” Walmsley said. “The organic program, by its nature, is non-GMO. Now they’re going to be able to put it if they’re certi-fied USDA organic. They’re going to be able to put non-GMO on their product if they so choose.” 3) The legislation stops Ver-mont’s law. Under Vermont’s GMO legislation, which would have impacted the nation, maple syrup, dairy and some other producers were exempt from labeling. “The federal standard brings in about 25,000 additional products that will be under the disclosure mecha-nism which, when you’re trying to talk about transparency, just makes sense if it’s really the goal to provide more information,” Walmsley said. In addition to stopping Vermont’s law, the national standard also pre-vents a patchwork of state laws that could complicate things for food man-ufacturers who sell in many states. “It would have obviously impacted free trade amongst the states and in-terstate commerce,” Walmsley said. “Congress is definitely within its role and responsibility of putting one stan-dard in place and making sure we have some consistency and transpar-ency of information being provided to consumers.” 4) Farm organizations support-ed the legislation. Although the legislation isn’t per-fect and requires a mandatory label, organizations like AFBF and Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) supported the bill’s passage in the end. “There are problems with the legis-lation, but not because it doesn’t pro-vide ample opportunity to avoid GMOs. Texas Farm Bureau favored the volun-tary labeling applied to thousands of 1036 S FM 331, SEALY, TX -3 Miles North of Sealy on Hwy 36 to FM 331, then 1 Mile East Saturday, August 20 -10:00 A.M. Tractors -Trailers -Farm Implements -Trucks -Autos -Misc. 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Farm Bureau’s voice on the impact was heard in the House Rules Com-mittee before the full House consid-ered the bill. “I’ll be in support of this. I was vis-ited by the Farm Bureau, Texas Farm Bureau, where I have been a member for some 20 years out of Freestone County, Texas. I intend to listen to my Farm Bureau and they’re in support of this also,” Committee chairman Pete Sessions said. The new compromised bill reached by Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking Democrat Deb-bie Stabenow negates the impact the Vermont bill would have had. It saves families what could have turned addi-tional food costs anywhere from $500 to $1,000 a year. It also prevents a mandatory label on meat from livestock that have con-sumed biotech feed. “We’ve done it in a way that hope-fully doesn’t demonize the technology where these companies will want to reformulate, which is our biggest con-cern,” Walmsley said. “That’s reforma-tion where these companies seek out non-GMO commodities, which would be a huge loss to agriculture.” 5) The law won’t be enforced right away. Now that the bill is law, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will start rulemaking on a lot of the directives they were given in the leg-islation. USDA has two years to come up with rules and standards to create a national labeling standard that pro-vides food manufacturers three op-tions in providing more information to consumers. “The biggest thing if I’m a consum-er, and I see a label like that, I per-sonally would select that over another product because I know the work and the science that went into producing that is safe. I know the benefits envi-ronmentally and culturally for farm-ers and ranchers to be able to use that ag innovation going forward,” he said. A UGUST 5 , 2016

Five Things to Know About GMO Labeling

Jessica Domel

Now that national GMO labeling legislation has been passed by both the House and Senate and signed into law, many consumers and food manufacturers alike are wondering: What does this mean for me?

According to Andrew Walmsley, director of Congressional Relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the new law means a number of things.

1) Food manufacturers have options.

There won’t be a one-size-fits-all option when it comes to GMO labeling.

Food companies can use an onpackage sentence or symbol to signify to shoppers that genetically modified materials are in the food. They can also use electronic disclosure—a QR code or smart label—that can be scanned by a smart device.

“This is something that Farm Bureau supports and has been supportive of because it provides an opportunity to give a whole lot of different information to consumers that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to get with just an on-package symbol or statement,” Walmsley said.

With an issue as complex as bioengineering, it can be difficult for food companies to provide plain, accurate information to consumers with just an on-package statement.

“This is really a longer conversation to talk about the safety and benefits of ingredients that are derived through breeding techniques like bioengineering,” Walmsley said.

2) Not all foods will be labeled.

While the majority of foods will be labeled under the new legislation, not all products will carry one of the three types of mandatory labeling.

“Those products that aren’t bioengineered aren’t going to require a label, although we expect a lot of the food manufacturers to use a smart label across all their brands and across all their products to provide information,” Walmsley said.

About 80 percent of products on store shelves probably have some type of biotech ingredient.

The other 20 percent may be able to use other types of labeling.

“There was a piece in the legislation for those producers who are certified organic. This is a real win for them,” Walmsley said. “The organic program, by its nature, is non-GMO. Now they’re going to be able to put it if they’re certified USDA organic. They’re going to be able to put non-GMO on their product if they so choose.”

3) The legislation stops Vermont’s law.

Under Vermont’s GMO legislation, which would have impacted the nation, maple syrup, dairy and some other producers were exempt from labeling.

“The federal standard brings in about 25,000 additional products that will be under the disclosure mechanism which, when you’re trying to talk about transparency, just makes sense if it’s really the goal to provide more information,” Walmsley said.

In addition to stopping Vermont’s law, the national standard also prevents a patchwork of state laws that could complicate things for food manufacturers who sell in many states.

“It would have obviously impacted free trade amongst the states and interstate commerce,” Walmsley said. “Congress is definitely within its role and responsibility of putting one standard in place and making sure we have some consistency and transparency of information being provided to consumers.”

4) Farm organizations supported the legislation.

Although the legislation isn’t perfect and requires a mandatory label, organizations like AFBF and Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) supported the bill’s passage in the end.

“There are problems with the legislation, but not because it doesn’t provide ample opportunity to avoid GMOs. Texas Farm Bureau favored the voluntary labeling applied to thousands of products. The new law provides another layer of choice. We signed off on the bill only because agriculture must have regulatory certainty,” TFB President Russell Boening said.

Farm Bureau’s voice on the impact was heard in the House Rules Committee before the full House considered the bill.

“I’ll be in support of this. I was visited by the Farm Bureau, Texas Farm Bureau, where I have been a member for some 20 years out of Freestone County, Texas. I intend to listen to my Farm Bureau and they’re in support of this also,” Committee chairman Pete Sessions said.

The new compromised bill reached by Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow negates the impact the Vermont bill would have had. It saves families what could have turned additional food costs anywhere from $500 to $1,000 a year.

It also prevents a mandatory label on meat from livestock that have consumed biotech feed.

“We’ve done it in a way that hopefully doesn’t demonize the technology where these companies will want to reformulate, which is our biggest concern,” Walmsley said. “That’s reformation where these companies seek out non-GMO commodities, which would be a huge loss to agriculture.”

5) The law won’t be enforced right away.

Now that the bill is law, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will start rulemaking on a lot of the directives they were given in the legislation.

USDA has two years to come up with rules and standards to create a national labeling standard that provides food manufacturers three options in providing more information to consumers.

“The biggest thing if I’m a consumer, and I see a label like that, I personally would select that over another product because I know the work and the science that went into producing that is safe. I know the benefits environmentally and culturally for farmers and ranchers to be able to use that ag innovation going forward,” he said.

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Five+Things+to+Know+About+GMO+Labeling/2551903/326435/article.html.

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