Jul 07 2016 - Jul 08 2016

Fischer Supports Biotech Compromise

Legislation Would Halt Vermont State Labeling Law, Reduce Costs, and Provide Much-Needed Certainty For Nebraska Ag Producers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This evening, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) supported legislation that will reduce costs and provide certainty for farmers, ranchers, food companies, and consumers in Nebraska. Introduced by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the bill was the product of a bipartisan compromise. It would replace the Vermont state labeling law that went into effect on July 1. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 63 to 30. 

Senator Fischer released the following statement: 

“When I visit with my friends and neighbors, our farmers and ranchers, they tell me they support this agreement because it accomplishes three important goals. First, the bill recognizes the scientific consensus that biotechnology is safe. Second, under this agreement, consumers will know what’s in the food they are eating. Third, producers in the United States, and especially in Nebraska, will have the certainty they need to continue to provide safe, high quality, and affordable food to hungry people around the world.”

Steve Nelson, President of Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation, released the following statement in support of the legislation:

“The science surrounding the safety and environmental benefits of GMO products is clear, and this legislation ensures that Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers will be able to take advantage of the many continued advances made in agricultural technology. While we continue to oppose the mandatory nature of this bill, the potential costs to consumers, farmers and ranchers of a state-by-state patchwork of unnecessary GMO labeling laws should not be allowed to stand. We appreciate Sen. Fischer’s support of this bill and hope it will move quickly through the House so that the president may sign it before Vermont’s needless labeling law inflicts any more damage on our nation’s agricultural economy.”

Nick Lapaseotes, Chairman of the Board of the Western Sugar Cooperative, released the following statement in support of the legislation:

“Passage of the Roberts-Stabenow compromise was absolutely essential for the future of our sugar cooperative and American consumers. We salute Senator Fischer for standing strong for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers against those who would threaten our ability to provide safe food along with several environmental benefits.”

Senator Fischer is a strong supporter of biotechnology as it allows agriculture producers in Nebraska, and across the country, to supply safe and affordable food to consumers around the world. 

As of July 1, 2016, harmful and misleading mandatory labeling of biotechnology went into effect by default due to a Vermont state law. The bipartisan legislation approved by the Senate today would replace the Vermont law. The bill also includes key preemption language that would prevent a patchwork of state-by-state biotech labeling laws. Such a patchwork would be damaging to agriculture producers and consumers as it would create uncertainty and drive up food costs.

The Roberts-Stabenow compromise also establishes a National Uniform Standard through the U.S. Department of Agriculture for any food that uses or may contain biotechnology.

The bill provides food manufacturers with three options for biotechnology labeling: text on package, a symbol, or an electronic link. Livestock and most meat products are exempted from mandatory disclosure. 

Last month, more than 100 Nobel laureates published a letter speaking to the benefits of biotechnology and how this safe breakthrough in innovation is helping to feed people all over the world. Their letter, which was reported by The Washington Post last week, notes:

“The scientific consensus is that gene editing in a laboratory is not more hazardous than modifications through traditional breeding, and that engineered plants potentially have environmental or health benefits, such as cutting down on the need for pesticides. A report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, released in May, said there is no substantiated evidence that GMO crops have sickened people or harmed the environment, but also cautioned that such crops are relatively new and that it is premature to make broad generalizations, positive or negative, about their safety.”

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