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AGRIBUSINESS: Congress To Face GMO Labeling Issues

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This year, Congress is likely to encounter an uptick in issues regarding commercializing bio-engineered animals for human consumption.

Currently, the FDA is reviewing an application for approval of bio-engineered salmon, and since last spring, several bills have been introduced to label foods containing bio-engineered ingredients.

Most recently, representatives Mike Pompeo of Kansas and G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina introduced a bill that would give FDA sole authority to require mandatory labels on foods found to be unsafe.

The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014 would head off state, and even municipal attempts to require labels on GMO products.

Iowa Biotechnology Association Executive Director Joe Hrdlicka says having a federal standard as opposed to a patchwork of local labeling laws is a more reasonable approach.

"Both sides of the equation want consumers to have platforms available to them to know what the food products they're choosing.  I think even more importantly, both sides of this equation want consumers to have nutritious healthy food."

Hrdlicka says, as far as the market indicates, genetic engineering isn't exactly going anywhere.

"Some people like seedless watermelons. some people want the ability to have orange juice where there might be a drought where the oranges are currently being grown so crop modification helps us deal with some of those issues with biotechnology entering into the equation it helps us become even more scientific.  You know, more continuous improvement on that arena and it helps us become more exact."

Proponents of mandatory labels beyond FDA's jurisdiction maintain that the issue is rooted in a consumer's right to know what's in his or her food.

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