US stock market daily report (February 06, 2014, Thursday)
February 7, 2014, Friday, 06:00 GMT | 01:00 EST | 10:30 IST | 13:00 SGT
Congress is being pressured to pass legislation that would require the Food and Drug Administration to create guidelines for new labels, food manufacturers could use for genetically modified ingredients. If any states pass laws requiring mandatory labeling, a federal standard for voluntary labels would get food manufacturers off the hook. While large companies are trying to head off the mandatory labeling, the food industry and farm groups want the legislation passed, nationwide.
Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, proposed an amendment in 2013, to a wide-ranging farm bill, designed to attempt to clarify that states can require the labels, as several legislatures have moved toward putting such laws into place. The Senate overwhelmingly rejected the amendment. Senators from farm states that use a deal of genetically modified crops, strongly opposed the amendment, saying the issue should be left up to the federal government and that labels could raise costs for consumers.
Although there is very little science that says genetically engineered foods are unsafe, opponents stand firm that there is little known of the seeds that are altered in laboratories to have certain traits and consumers have a right to know if they are eating them. The genetically engineered seeds are created for a variety of reasons, mostly to resist herbicides or insects.
On Thursday, a partnership was been created between grocery manufacturers and, 28 farm and food industry groups including the National Beverage Association, the National Corn Growers Association and the National Restaurant Association. The partnership group have felt pressure from consumers over modified ingredients. Confusion and misleading consumers into thinking that genetically engineered ingredients are unsafe, is the groups stance. The industries are lobbying members of Congress to introduce and pass a bill that would require FDA to do a safety review of new genetically engineered ingredients before they are sold in food. To date, the FDA has not found any safety issues with modified ingredients. Many lawmakers from farm states defend GMO's.
As the conversation from consumers grows louder about modified ingredients, companies are facing more pressure from retailers. In 2013, Whole Foods announced its plans to label GMO products in all of its U.S. and Canadian stores within five years. Other companies have decided to simply remove the ingredients altogether. The original Cheerios recipe, per General Mills, Inc. (GIS-NYSE), will no longer contain GMO's.
Several state legislatures are considering labeling requirements and opponents of engineered ingredients are aggressively pushing new laws in several states. Recent ballot initiatives failed in California and Washington.
Pamela Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the food industry's main trade group, said the decision on labels should rest with the Food and Drug Administration, which is set up to assess the safety of foods. Bailey said, "It does not serve national food safety policy to leave these issues to political campaigns."