The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) have welcomed the bipartisan passage by the Senate Agriculture Committee of legislation on the labeling of bioengineered food products.

The bill would set a uniform national food labeling standard for genetically engineered ingredients, preventing states from introducing their own requirements on the labeling of genetically modified foods.

It would also require the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to create a national voluntary GMO labeling standard and, along with industry, help educate consumers about the benefits of agricultural biotechnology.

“Simply put, the legislation before us provides an immediate and comprehensive solution to the state-by-state patchwork of labeling laws,” said U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “It sets national uniformity based on science for labeling food or seeds that are genetically engineered. This allows the value chain from farmer to processor to shipper to retailer to consumer to continue as the free market intended.”

“IDFA thanks the Republican and Democratic members of the committee who voted in favor of the bill and commends them for recognizing the importance of this bill to American consumers, as well as to the nation’s food suppliers,” said J. David Carlin, IDFA senior vice president for legislative affairs and economic policy.

“By putting an immediate stop to the patchwork of state-based labeling requirements for foods with genetically modified, or GMO, ingredients, the bill will protect consumers from higher food costs and prevent food manufacturers from having to contend with inconsistent and costly regulations.”

Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of the GMA, described the vote as “a victory for working families, farmers, and food companies.” She said: “This legislation ensures that consumers get consistent information about food and beverage ingredients, prevents a patchwork of confusing and costly state labeling mandates, and provides the same labeling rules to shoppers across the country.