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Public Statements

Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WELCH. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I want to address this issue that Mr. Pompeo and this bill present to this House. This question of GMO labeling and biotechnology is a good thing. Biotechnology has done a lot of good things for this country and for consumers. This is not a question about whether the science says that GMO foods cause medical issues. That is not the issue.

The question is whether consumers, when they purchase food, have a right to know what is in it. What Mr. Pompeo and this legislation are suggesting is that, regardless of what consumers want, they won't be told.

This bill does two fundamental things. One, it says to those States that this is not about a small group of activists. This is States like Vermont, Maine, and Connecticut with massive bipartisan votes, Republicans and Democrats saying that they wanted the right to have these products labeled, and then the consumer can decide whether he or she wants to purchase that product. It is the market that ultimately decides.

This legislation would basically block all State laws that require mandatory GMO labeling; so if the State of Idaho, with its Republicans and Democrats in the legislature responding to the demands of its constituents, wanted to label it, they wouldn't be able to do it. It effectively blocks the FDA from creating a national labeling standard. That is the irony here.

If you are talking preemption, you at least have to talk about a national standard that has credibility and provides information that consumers want. In this case, we strip from the States the right to do what they believe is in the interest of their citizens and don't substitute any serious label that would apply across the board. This claim that this would create a patchwork of different State laws is not addressed when you don't even offer a national standard.

Next, it would allow ``natural'' claims on GMO foods and block State laws that prevent such claims. This legislation fundamentally takes away from your State and mine the ability to do what they believe is in the interest of their consumers: let them know what they are buying.

By the way, what is the problem with letting consumers know what they are buying? They are the ones that decide what products they want to consume. The issue here, again, to repeat, is not about the science of whether GMOs cause health problems, but there is a significant issue about GMO products requiring significantly more herbicides in order to produce, and the use of herbicides--glyphosate has gone from 16 million pounds to about 280 million pounds since the introduction. Those farming practices do have an effect, and a lot of consumers are really concerned about that.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.


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