(Washington, D.C.) Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), today said that unless Congress passes a uniform national law on disclosure of genetically engineered food ingredients, stigmatization from on-package labels will lead to increased consumer costs and confusion and a paradigm shift in agriculture away from biotech crops.
Failure to act will have long-lasting adverse effects throughout the food supply chain and will turn back the clock on American agriculture, Bailey said in the kickoff address of the 2016 GMA Science Forum.
“The Senate needs to act and act quickly, or farmers may lose access to biotech, more food companies may be forced to reformulate, and consumers will face higher food costs,” Bailey said. “The time to act is now, and GMA stands ready to work with Senate leaders in crafting a bipartisan compromise.
“Our constitution gave Congress the authority to regulate interstate commerce for the benefit of all Americans,” Bailey said. “There is no greater need for the Senate to exercise that authority than the crisis now facing our food supply chain.”
Bailey’s remarks on the GMO labeling issue are part of a larger statement on the state of the industry and how food, beverage, and consumer products companies harness science and innovation to benefit consumers.
The GMA Science Forum has educated scientists and decision makers within the industry for nearly a decade, and this year’s event provides attendees with multiple views and actions to be taken in order to ensure policies, laws, and regulations are based on sound, up-to-date science and to achieve compliance with the changing regulatory environment.
This event brings together an impressive group of acclaimed experts and industry leaders to keep the science community informed of emerging science, innovation, safety, and legal requirements in a wide array of areas. Science Forum sessions include diverse topics such as food safety, government regulation, global issues, chemical ingredients, nutrition and labeling, biotechnology, and innovation.
The theme of the 2016 GMA Science Forum is Connecting Sound Science with Sound Policy, as when government policies aren't grounded in sound science, the effects can be costly and extensive. The GMO on-package labeling requirement in Vermont is an example of the severe and far-reaching impact non-science based policies have on manufacturers, farmers, and consumers.
Following Bailey’s opening address, the Science Forum programming featured four sessions that focused on different aspects of innovation by the consumer packaged goods industry, including:
- How Innovation in Biotechnology Can Feed the World: Margaret Ziegler, Executive Director of the Global Harvest Initiative, discussed how biotechnology serves as a critical part of a broad strategy to improve global food security, nutrition, and to build resilience to climate challenges. Over time, innovations in biotech have increased food productivity, efficiency, and sustainability, but consumers and policymakers must gain a better understanding of the benefits of modern biotechnology. There are many opportunities for biotechnology to help solve some of the world’s greatest problems, and innovative technology combined with sound policy are essential to long term success.
- The Importance of Innovation to the Wellbeing of Consumers: Tarric El-Sayed, Vice President of R&D at Clorox, highlighted the importance of innovation in the development of healthful, high quality products that delight and improve the lives of the world’s consumers. Innovations in R&D and manufacturing have revolutionized the food, beverage, and consumer products industry to make products safer, fresher, and more convenient. El-Sayed touched on the evolution of consumer needs and the role of innovation in addressing those concerns, including health and wellbeing, customization, making life simpler, and corporate social responsibility.
- How Innovation Improves Food and Consumer Product Safety: Michael Robach, Vice President, Corporate Food Safety, Quality & Regulatory at Cargill, discussed how the industry is using innovation, science, and technology to keep consumers safe. With rising incomes around the world, many consumers are increasingly focused on health and wellbeing and have rapidly evolving preferences. Safety and controls in the supply chain have never been more important to promoting security and ensuring consumer safety.
- Using Innovation to Improve Transparency: Jim Flannery, Senior Executive Vice President, Operations and Industry Affairs at GMA, provided an in-depth look at SmartLabel™ technology and how it's changing the way consumers and industry interact and share information. SmartLabel™ complements traditional package labels by leveraging digital technology and delivering clear, convenient, and accurate information to consumers. As SmartLabel™ grows in use, brands can choose to include more information that is important to their consumers. Today, 36 companies have committed to listing almost 34,000 products by the end of 2017.
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About The Grocery Manufacturers Association
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is the trade organization representing the world’s leading food, beverage and consumer products companies and associated partners. The U.S. food, beverage and consumer packaged goods industry has facilities in 30,000 communities, generates $1 trillion in sales annually, contributes $415 billion in added value to the economy every year and is the single largest U.S. manufacturing industry with 1.7 million manufacturing workers. Founded in 1908, GMA has a primary focus on product safety, science-based public policies and industry initiatives that seek to empower people with the tools and information they need to make informed choices and lead healthier lives.