Animal production leaders, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), acknowledge that this bill includes provisions that protect the meat industry, and as such, are in support of the efforts made by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas and Senator Stabenow (D-Mich.).
While this bill is a mandatory program that will impact all packaged products, this will not impact beef products as it stands currently. In a statement released shortly after the bill passed through the Senate on July 13, NCBA noted that with the provisions, “beef would not be labeled as a result of consuming GMO feed.” This includes products with the first ingredient listed as beef, whole cuts, ground products and beef broth.
This bill requires mandatory disclosure of products that are FDA inspected under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act with the exception of products that have the first ingredient listed as beef. It also exempts products under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, such as whole cuts. The only situation where beef products are subject to disclosure by this law is if beef is lower than the first item on an ingredient list, with the exception of broth and/or water as the first ingredient immediately followed by beef.
The Senate bill will require all packaged products to disclose if the items were produced or partially produced with genetic engineering, either by adding a textual disclosure on the product label or through a visual indication such as symbol or electronic label that can be accessed by smartphones, such as QR codes. It would also prohibit states from enacting individual GMO labeling laws, such as Vermont’s more strict law that was in place until the president signed the Senate bill.
A driving factor behind the provisions that Roberts and Stabenow worked to incorporate into the bill was focused on lessening the confusion of consumers and enacting a consistent way of informing the marketplace. In a statement released shortly after the Senate passage and the Vermont law went into effect on July 1, National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) stated, “This compromise measure will help resolve the marketplace confusion that has already erupted.”
NCBA said that the Roberts-Stabenow bill with its exemptions for meat, eggs and dairy provisions goes “a long way in protecting the [beef] industry from another activist-driven, anti-agriculture mandatory labeling program.”