States would not be allowed to enact any mandatory affirmative label for genetically modified organisms or ingredients from GMOs in human food under legislation proposed by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., on Wednesday morning.
Pompeo, in a briefing with members of the North American Agricultural Journalists on Tuesday, said the legislation would make mandatory a review by the Food and Drug Administration to certify the product as safe.
Currently, the USDA and the federal Environmental Protection Agency review proposed new GMO foods to assure that they are substantially the same as their traditional counterparts and do not pose a threat to the environment in terms of soil, water or air pollution.
A review by FDA for food safety is commonly practiced, but is not required.
Pompeo proposes to make the FDA review mandatory before the product is commercially released and would require it to be labeled only if the FDA found reason that the public needed a warning about consumption – that it might in some way cause allergic reaction or other adverse effect.
"I think the public has come to expect that kind of label as a warning and that adding it to all GMO foods would be misleading," Pompeo said.
He said the proposed law would not make it illegal for a manufacturer to label a product "GMO Free," but would require that manufacturers be prepared to prove that label accurate. The same would apply to "organic" and "all natural" labels.
The Congressman said he expects hearings on the legislation in the next month or two. He said it has bipartisan support and is a result of months of talks in the Energy and Commerce Committee.
The bill is labeled the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. Pompeo said it would apply only to human food and FDA review would not be required for GMOs intended as pet food or animal feed.
"There is a consensus that this is the way to go; to set a statutory requirement at the federal level and head off a 50-state patchwork of different regulatory requirements," he said. He said he also does not expect industry opposition because the process is already voluntary and widely used.
"To my knowledge, there is not a single product on the market that didn't go through this process," he said.