U.S. SENATE — Under Senator Steve Daines’ questioning, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today stated that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) pose no risk to food safety or threat to plant pest risk.
During a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies hearing on the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 funding request for the USDA, Daines pressed Vilsack to allow sound science to be preeminent in its rule-making process and to reject harmful regulations that are not backed by evidence.
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During the hearing, Daines specifically pressed Vilsack on if there are any safety concerns or sound, scientific research that would warrant the mandatory labeling of GMOs. In response to Daines’ question, Vilsack responded, “No.”
“I have no issue with voluntary programs that meet market demands or consumer preferences,” Daines stated. “That being said, I believe USDA’s priority should be with making determinations based on sound science regarding the safety of biotech products within its jurisdiction, not on marketing or mandatory labeling efforts that have no bearing on food safety or plant pest risk.”
Vilsack emphasized that mandatory GMO labeling efforts are not about food safety, nutritional benefits or sound science.
“In the past, we have labeled, we have put something on the package to talk about caloric content, or nutrition, or known risk,” Vilsack stated. “That’s not what this (mandatory labeling) is about.”
Last week, Daines pressed Food and Drug Administrator Robert Califf on the safety of GMOs. During that hearing, Califf stated that biotech food should not be regulated differently than its non-biotech counterparts and noted that the FDA has not found any differences between GMO and non-GMO foods.