FarmPolicy

July 21, 2017

Transcript: Sen. Jeff Merkley Discusses GMO Labeling on Senate Floor

Categories: Biotech

Yesterday, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.) discussed GMO labeling issues on the Senate floor, a transcript of his full remarks can be found here.

Senator Merkley, who is the ranking member on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, discussed a GMO labeling measure passed by the Senate Ag Committee, as well as an alternative bill that he has co-sponsored.

In part, Sen. Merkely indicated that, “We should enable the individual in our beautiful Republic to make the decision and not have Big Government make the decision or suppress information. That is what happens in the non- ‘we the people’ world. That is what happens in dictatorships. That is not what should happen here in the United States of America, where individuals have the right to know what is in their food.”

Sen. Merkley added that, “There are 64 other countries, including 28 members of the European Union, Japan, Australia, and Brazil, that all require some type of indication on the ingredients panel or on the package. Do you know who else is in that group? China. China is a dictatorship. China doesn’t deny its citizens the right to know. How is it possible that a bill in this Chamber has been introduced to take away the right of Americans to know what is in their food? Even China doesn’t do that, and we must not do it either.”

The Oregon Democrat added that, “Basically, a big concern of the food industry—totally legitimate—is that they don’t want 50 different standards in 50 different States or to have a bunch of counties decide to make up their own rules, which would result in hundreds or thousands of rules. If you operate a warehouse, you can’t send different cans of soups to grocery stores across the country. No. So that makes sense. They want a 50-State solution. Furthermore, they want to have it acknowledged that there is nothing pejorative about the concept of bioengineering or transgenic. They want to know that people know this is a situation where there are some positive benefits, and I have mentioned some of those positive benefits. They don’t want a label on the front of the package because they think it would be scary to consumers, and they want flexibility as to exactly what system they use to alert consumers.

The bill I put forward provides all of those goals for a 50-State solution. There is nothing on the front of the package, nothing pejorative, and provides flexibility for the food industry. It does not go to the final step that much of the food industry wants, which is no unpackaged labeling because then there is no compromise between the two sides.”

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