Senate Hearing Stresses Confidence in the Safety, Regulation of GMOs
Washington, D.C. (October 21, 2015) – “Over the past twenty years, agriculture biotechnology has become a valuable tool in ensuring the success of the American farmer in meeting the challenge of increasing yield in a more efficient, safe, and responsible manner,” said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Chairman of the Senate Ag Committee at a hearing today.
“A growing global population, coupled with the effects of climate change, and the stress placed on much of our natural resources, has created an urgency for new innovations if we are to maintain our nation's agricultural leadership,” added Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). “That’s one reason why I support the use of biotechnology in agriculture.”
As the debate over GMO food labeling and the use of biotechnology in agriculture has evolved, the Committee hosted today’s hearing titled “Agriculture Biotechnology: A Look at Federal Regulation and Stakeholder Perspectives, to hear perspectives from agency officials, food producers and consumer groups. Committee members also asked witnesses their perspectives on whether or not GMO foods should require labels.
“We agree with the Committee members and expert witnesses who expressed the need to give consumers more information about where and how their food is produced,” says Brian Baenig, Executive Vice President for Food and Agriculture for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
“In particular, we echo Ranking Member Stabenow’s request for a solution that addresses the problem of a 50-state patchwork of regulations, while providing transparency for consumers in a way that does not stigmatize biotechnology.”
Dr. Ronald Kleinman, a pediatrician at MassGeneral Hospital for Children, testified to the safety and regulatory scrutiny of GMO food crops and offered his opinion on proposals to mandate the labeling of GMOs.
“Food labeling on GM content conveys no useful nutrition or safety information to consumers, is often misleading, and will simply present confusing and confounding information to consumers, including the parents I personally advise,” Dr. Kleinman testified. “What is the difference between need to know and right to know?”
Committee members agreed that the discussion was valuable and overdue in the Senate. Stabenow called for “a bipartisan bill that can pass the Senate by the end of this year.”
“We commend the bipartisan leadership of Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) as the discussion on this issue moves to the Senate,” said Baenig. “BIO stands with a broad community of farmers, growers and food manufacturers in asking the Senate to move forward with GMO labeling legislation within the coming weeks.”
*Note: Witness testimonies and Chairman Roberts’ and Ranking Member Stabenow’s opening statement are posted on the Senate Ag Committee website.