Coalition Letter to House & Senate Appropriators on Provisions Undermining the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard Act

Letter

Date Sent
November 17, 2017
Sender
Multi-Industry Coalition
Recipient
Senators Cochran and Leahy and Representatives Frelinghuysen and LoweyHouse & Senate Appropriations Leaders
Subject
Appropriations Provisions for the Labeling of Bioengineered Salmon
341.14 KB, PDF

Dear Senators Cochran and Leahy and Representatives Frelinghuysen and Lowey, 

As representatives of the U.S. food value chain, we urge you to reject any appropriations provision that could undermine or conflict with the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard Act (the Disclosure Act or the Act). Congress passed the Disclosure Act last year with overwhelming bipartisan support, and President Obama signed it into law. The Act provides the framework for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide consumers with consistent, truthful, and non-misleading information they may wish to have about their food in a way that does not stigmatize the use of technology to produce that food. USDA is currently implementing the Disclosure Act through rulemaking.  

When considering the Disclosure Act, Congress was explicit that the Act must prevent a patchwork of bioengineered food disclosure regulations, as the existence of such would likely cause widespread consumer confusion. Consequently, Congress set the definition of “bioengineered” food, thus establishing the scope of the uniform mandatory disclosure standard. Those foods that meet the definition of a “bioengineered food” fall within the uniform disclosure mandate. The Act sets out a number of options for compliance and recognizes the 30-plus years of proven safety of bioengineering in food and agriculture.  

It is important for Congress to fully support the framework set out in the Disclosure Act and the authority vested in USDA to implement that framework. To do that, Congress must reject any attempts to undermine the Act. We are extremely concerned that Section 757 of the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2018 Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act would do just that. The proposed provision would require a separate and conflicting mandated label for a specific bioengineered food product that is already covered by the Disclosure Act. If this provision becomes law, it will undermine the congressionally-mandated USDA uniform disclosure standard and generate consumer confusion as the proposed FDA label would mandate different disclosure language than that required by the Disclosure Act. Consumers would likely be left wondering as to the differences in disclosures.   

As you work over the next few weeks to finalize the Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations process, we ask that you exclude this harmful bioengineered food labeling provision from any final bill. At the same time, we urge your committee to provide necessary resources for the USDA to implement the Disclosure Act in a timely way.  

Sincerely,  

Agricultural Retailers Association

American Agri-Women

American Farm Bureau Federation

American Feed Industry Association

American Seed Trade Association

American Soybean Association

Biotechnology Innovation Organization

Can Manufacturers Institute

Corn Refiners Association

Enzyme Technical Association

Independent Bakers Association

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture

National Association of Wheat Growers

National Black Growers Council

National Corn Growers Association

National Council of Farmer Cooperatives

National Grain and Feed Association

National Milk Producers Federation

National Oilseed Processors Association

National Potato Council

National Renderers Association

National Turkey Federation

North American Meat Institute

North American Millers' Association

U.S. Canola Association

U.S. Chamber of Commerce