Newhouse Statement on Passage of Biotechnology Labeling Law
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) released the following statement after the House approved biotechnology legislation, the Motion to Concur in the Senate amendment to the House amendment to S. 764:
“It is critical for Congress to offer this solution to the damaging and unworkable consequences of a potential patchwork of state labeling laws that would otherwise vary state by state and market by market,” said Rep. Newhouse. “There is an overwhelming scientific consensus that biotechnology is safe and benefits food production in a hungry world, but this legislation will take important steps for creating a standard to provide consumers with meaningful information they want about the foods they choose for their families.”
I want to thank the gentleman for yielding.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to offer my support for S. 764, the Senate-passed biotechnology labeling legislation that we are considering today. Without enactment of this legislation today, right now, we will continue to see the emergence of an incompatible patchwork of state laws, like the one that took effect in Vermont just two weeks ago. As a farmer myself, I can tell you with some authority that if these state laws – with their conflicting definitions and labeling requirements – are allowed to take effect, it will increase the cost of production and compliance for farmers as well as food producers. This in turn will drive up grocery bills for American families by hundreds, even thousands of dollars. That, Mr. Speaker, I believe unacceptable and unconscionable of an outcome to inflict on the American people.
To be clear, I don’t think this bill is perfect – it’s far from it. It’s filled with ambiguous statements, and in many places offers little guidance to USDA on how to best implement the bill’s provisions.
I’m also disappointed the Senate waited until the very last moment, imposing this crisis on the House, leaving us with only two options: either act on an imperfect bill or let the American people suffer. Mr. Speaker, let the record reflect that the House did its job, passed a biotech labeling bill for the Senate’s consideration an entire year ago.
Generally, when we are talking about labeling for food, it’s for health and safety purposes. I believe people have a right to know what it is they are eating, but today we find ourselves in a place to require mandatory labeling for agricultural products that are 100% safe. With my reservations noted, passing this bill is the right thing to do. It will establish a meaningful national standard for biotech labeling that will prevent an unworkable patchwork of conflicting state laws. It will provide consumers with information they want. And finally, it will create an environment where farmers, researchers can continue to do their work and develop new varieties of foods that are healthier, more abundant, more pest and disease resistant – and allow us to continue to feed our nation and the world, and I urge my colleagues to support its passage.