USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack was in New Orleans Friday for his traditional address to the Commodity Classic crowd, and in his final address he pledged unequivocal support for both the Trans Pacific Partnership to open new markets for American farm products and the passage of a national GMO labeling law.
“Congress needs to act, and they need to act in the very, very short term,” he said. “I appreciate the fact that Chairman Roberts of the Agriculture Committee has moved forward and put a proposal on the table. I appreciate that he is continuing to discuss this with Senator Stabenow, his democratic counterpart, and I believe that they are committed to finding common ground on this issue. It’s going to be important to avoid the kind of chaos that could ensue if we have 50 different states developing their own labeling requirements, or individual companies deciding to establish their own individual company’s label requirements.”
“And we need an opportunity where the industry engages, and by industry I mean all of us, the food industry, the agricultural industry, engages in an aggressive education campaign to allay the concerns and fears that are unfounded about the safety of biotech crops. I’m here today to say very unequivocally they are safe to consume. There is no risk associated with them and we need to make that clear to the consuming public.”
At a press briefing after his remarks the secretary said he is optimistic that the senate can get the 60 votes to pass the labeling bill and if so he said the President would sign it.