Tester, Sanders make last minute push against GMO labeling bill


by Jenny Hopkinson

The leading opponents to Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Debbie Stabenow’s (D-Mich.) GMO labeling bill (S. 764) are pushing back against claims from lawmakers and the USDA that there are no loopholes in the measure, though even they seem ready to concede that the legislation will be passed by the upper chamber.

“It would be great to have a good labeling bill,” Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said during a press conference this morning. “Instead we are going to pass a piece of legislation that quite frankly Micky Mouse wouldn’t be proud of.”

The bill is scheduled for a cloture vote this afternoon.

Tester, who was joined by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), took aim at what he said were flawed definitions in the bill that could allow for some GMO ingredients not to be labeled, arguing that lawmakers should have used the a standard similar to that in the European Union and elsewhere.

“Why would you change a definition for the bill” from the standards that are used elsewhere, Tester asked. “Why would you change that if its not in someone’s best interest.”

While Stabenow and USDA have said they plan to implement the law to cover all GMO ingredients, opponents today said that promise likely won’t hold up in arguments in front of a judge.

When the law is challenged, and there is no doubt that will happen, the court “will look first and only to the language of the statue,” Blumenthal said. “If the language is clear, there is no reason to look beyond it … it’s the language of the statute that is determination.”

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