Fifty-one Indiana agriculture and food industry organisations, in tandem with Coalition for Safe, Affordable Food, sent a letter to Senator Joe Donnelly calling on him to support a uniform, national labeling standard for foods made with biotechnology and rally around a proposal put forward by U.S. Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts that is set for action before the committee next week.
"On behalf of the Indiana agriculture and food industries, we write to express our strong support for the biotech labeling language recently released by Chairman Roberts, and ask that you work with the Chairman and Ranking Member to move this piece of legislation through the Committee and onto the floor," the letter reads. "The issue of biotech labeling is one of the most significant issues that the agriculture and food industry has faced in recent years. More than 16% of Indiana’s workforce is connected to agriculture, and the food and agriculture industry contributes more than $25 billion in economic activity to our state each year."
The letter to Senator Donnelly comes on the heels of a similar letter that was delivered to Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow on Tuesday that was signed by over 650 groups from all 50 states representing the entirety of the American food supply chain.
These groups are advocating for swift Congressional action that prevents the implementation of Vermont’s GMO labeling law, set to take effect in July. If Vermont’s law moves forward, the supply chains and production techniques of America’s farmers and food companies will be thrown into disarray as they are forced to navigate an increasingly complex patchwork of differing state laws. President Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, has stated that such a scenario would result in "chaos" in the marketplace.
Just this week, a new study released by the Corn Refiners Association found that the implementation of Vermont’s labeling law could impact the nation’s food chain to such a degree that the average family could see their annual food bill rise by as much as $1,050 a year. The study pegged the costs for Hoosier families at $755 per year.
"These letters demonstrate just how urgent this issue is to the men and women who are responsible for feeding American families," said Claire Parker, spokesperson for the Coalition for Safe, Affordable Food, an umbrella organization that represents many of the letter’s signers pushing for consistent labeling standards. "If Congress fails to act, farmers and food companies will see their production methods needlessly complicated and grocery shoppers across the country will end up paying the price. We look forward to working with Chairman Roberts, Ranking Member Stabenow and all members of the Agriculture committee in the days ahead to get reasonable legislation through Congress before it’s too late."