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The Federal Government Is One Step Closer to Blocking Mandatory GMO Labeling

This could potentially shut down a number of efforts for food transparency

T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

The battle over GMO labeling continues: Today the Senate Agriculture Committee voted to pass what's called the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (SAFE), the SF Gate reports. The bill, if voted into law, would block states from requiring labels on genetically modified foods.

The bill, put forth by Kansas Republican senator Pat Roberts, would require the federal government to put in place a nationwide voluntary labeling standard for GMO foods, as opposed to a mandatory labeling standard, which many states (including Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine) are pushing for. In other words, the bill would strike down state laws that require manufacturers to acknowledge GMOs on food labels. Vermont's mandatory GMO labeling law is slated to take effect in July.

A number of chefs, including Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio, oppose the bill and have signed a petition to oppose the legislation, saying Americans have a right to know what goes into their food. A recent poll revealed that 89 percent of Americans are in favor of mandatory GMO labeling. Following Tuesday's vote, Colicchio released a statement condemning the legislation.

"It's unbelievable that members of the Senate Agriculture Committee would vote to continue the same broken system of voluntary GMO labeling that keeps consumers in the dark about what's in their food and how it's grown," Colicchio said. "Americans deserve transparent and accurate information to make their own decision about what to feed their families."

The legislation already passed in the House last July and will be put to a vote soon on the Senate floor.

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