Sen. Pat Roberts has stopped short of saying he will take up the fight to get Senate support for the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act recently passed in by the U.S. House of Representatives.
But he did give reason to believe the bill will at least come up in committee in a prepared statement after the House vote.
It is likely that the bill will originate in the Senate agriculture committee, which is chaired by Roberts.
“I am pleased to see that fellow Kansan and Congressman Mike Pompeo and others in the House succeeded in tackling this issue in a bipartisan fashion," Roberts said in a prepared statement.
"I understand there are different approaches to provide consumers with more information about their food, and I am watching this issue very closely. It is important that any federal legislation on this topic consider scientific fact and unintended consequences before acting. I look forward to discussing this issue in the Senate.
Roberts went on to indicate that he at least expects the bill to come up.
"While I am currently focused on reauthorizing legislation, including Child Nutrition and the CFTC, as well as preventing trade retaliation from Canada and Mexico, I expect that we will be discussing biotechnology issues in the Agriculture Committee in the near future," he said.
The measure, which would set a uniform, national standard for labeling foods with GMOs and for GMO-free foods, was a signature accomplishment for District 4 Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, who introduced it with support from Rep. G. K. Butterfield, a Democrat from North Carolina.
Kansas 1st District Rep. Tim Huelskamp was a co-sponsor and all four Kansas representatives voted for the bill.
The big question, however, is what happens next as the bill moves over to the Senate for consideration.
The National Corn Growers Association and the National Association of Wheat Growers issued statements in support of the legislation as did the Kansas chapters of those organizations.
Greg Krissek, CEO of the Kansas Corn Growers Association said the organization was pleased that the House passed the bill.
"Like other food labeling, when it comes GMO foods and GMO-free foods, the FDA should establish science-based standards. The alternative is to have individual state make their own standards creating confusion and increasing food costs for consumers," Krissek said.
The American Soybean Association has indicated support for the bill as has the American Seed Trade Association, and the National Milk Producers Federation.
Last year, Vermont became the first state in the nation to enact a mandatory GMO labeling bill, raising the specter of similar measures in states across the country. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act would pre-empt the Vermont bill, which is scheduled to go into effect next year.