WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Sanders: Allow States to Label GMOs

Feb 24, 2016

Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders said Tuesday that he opposes federal measures that would bar states from requiring labels on food containing genetically modified ingredients.

The senator’s home state is also home to the nation’s first GMO labeling law, which is set to go into effect July 1. Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, the Republican who serves as chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, introduced a bill last week that would effectively bar states from enacting laws like Vermont’s and instead create a voluntary labeling system that food companies could opt-in to.

“I find it somewhat interesting that my conservative Republican friends who every other day tell us how much they hate the federal government – how they want to get government out of our lives – are now telling 50 states in this country what they can or cannot do,” Sanders told Steve Kraske of Harvest Public Media partner KCUR 89.3.

Constantly in the news and in your Facebook feed, GMOs have not yet been an issue of consequence on the presidential campaign trail – even on the Democratic-side, where much of the support for pro-labeling initiatives is thought to come.

While Sanders supports allowing states to require GMO labels, his campaign says Sanders “does not believe that GMOs are necessarily bad.”

Hillary Clinton, Sanders’ opponent, made a similar comment at a New Hampshire town hall in October 2015, according to Politico:

In response to a question from the audience, Clinton said she is "against what's a movement right now in the Congress, which is to preempt state decision-making regarding GMOs.” She added, however, that there "are very good reasons to have some GMOs [like] drought-resistant seeds in Africa."

Roberts has said he is still searching the Agriculture Committee for a compromise solution to GMO labels. If Senate Democrats mirror party standard-bearers, however, cooperation remains unlikely.