Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) On The Senate Agriculture Committee’s Pending Markup On Thursday Of GE Labeling Legislation

[On Thursday, the Senate Agriculture Committee will consider legislation to preempt Vermont’s state law, Act 120, regarding GE labeling of food, as well as Vermont’s nearly 12-year-old law requiring the labeling of GE seeds.  Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is a leading member and former chair of the Agriculture Committee.]

“I cannot – I will not – support the bill slated to be considered Thursday, that undermines the public’s right to know.  I continue to oppose any bill that takes away the rights of Vermont or any other state to legislate in a way that advances public health and food safety, informs consumers about potential environmental effects, avoids consumer confusion, and protects religious practices.  We should be moving in a direction that offers consumers more information and choices -- not less information and fewer choices -- about how the foods and products they choose and use are grown.  On Thursday I hope other senators will join me in rejecting these efforts to undermine the ability of a state to offer consumers purely factual, noncontroversial, commercial information that furthers the legitimate and substantial interests of the state.  Consumers have a right to know what they are buying.  Consideration of this proposed bill – which has received no hearing before the committee -- would create a new ‘voluntary’ labeling standard, which companies can already do under guidance from the Food and Drug Administration.  This is nothing more than an attack on Vermont’s law and on Vermonters’ voices in our state government.”

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