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Congress Pushing Legislation To Nullify State GMO Labeling Laws

neetalparekh, flickr Creative Commons

Vermont’s first-in-the-nation labeling law for foods containing genetically modified ingredients takes effect July 1. Harvest Public Media’s Amy Mayer reports Congress may be pushing through an impasse to create a national law intended to prevent a system of up to 50 different state laws.

The House has already passed a bill that would nullify Vermont’s law and prevent states from making their own labeling laws. But the Senate has yet to act. Consumers say they want to know if their foods contain GMOs, but food companies say modified ingredients are safe and labeling would create fear and be expensive.

As recently as two weeks ago, Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley had little hope any compromise would come from the Senate. But now he says there’s a new proposal on the table.

"You can obviously be more optimistic when you know people are talking and trying to negotiate than when they aren’t," Grassley says.

Grassley wouldn’t give any details about what’s in the deal. Campbell soups and Frito-Lay chips are among the foods that already have GE-ingredient labels, in anticipation of Vermont’s law.

Amy Mayer is a reporter based in Ames. She covers agriculture and is part of the Harvest Public Media collaboration. Amy worked as an independent producer for many years and also previously had stints as weekend news host and reporter at WFCR in Amherst, Massachusetts and as a reporter and host/producer of a weekly call-in health show at KUAC in Fairbanks, Alaska. Amy’s work has earned awards from SPJ, the Alaska Press Club and the Massachusetts/Rhode Island AP. Her stories have aired on NPR news programs such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition and on Only A Game, Marketplace and Living on Earth. She produced the 2011 documentary Peace Corps Voices, which aired in over 160 communities across the country and has written for The New York Times, Boston Globe, Real Simple and other print outlets. Amy served on the board of directors of the Association of Independents in Radio from 2008-2015.