Vilsack mum on outcome of ‘GMO labeling’ meeting
“I don’t want to comment specifically about the meeting,” Vilsack says. “I just want folks to know we’re working on the issue.”
Vilsack reportedly called that meeting to try to find some compromise on the labeling issue. And while he wouldn’t discuss what took place, Vilsack did tell Brownfield it is important to respect the science behind genetic engineering of crops.
“It’s important to reflect the benefits that those crops have in terms of reduced pesticide use and its impact on soil and water,” he says, “and the ability, I think, to use science to increase productivity, especially when we’re faced with a serious challenge of global food security in the future—so it is important.
“It’s also important to recognize that customers and consumers have a special relationship with food and they are entitled to information. They just need to make sure that they get the information in a way that doesn’t send the wrong message, in my view, about the safety of what they’re consuming—because there’s no question it is safe.”
The labeling debate has pitted consumer groups against major food and agribusiness companies. While there is general agreement on the need for GMO labeling, the two sides have failed to agree on how it should be done, and whether it should be mandatory or voluntary.
Last summer, the U.S. House passed a national voluntary labeling bill that would preempt state laws on GMO labeling. The Senate has yet to act on that House bill.
Pressure is mounting to address the issue because the deadline to comply with the first state GMO labeling law in Vermont is July first.
AUDIO: Tom Vilsack