Illinois farmer urges House subcommittee to support food labeling law

At a hearing of the House Energy and Environmental Health Subcommittee today, a grain farmer from Champaign County, Illinois, said a patchwork of biotech labeling laws would be an unworkable step backwards, and to prevent that from occurring he urged subcommittee members to support H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act.

H.R. 1599 was introduced this year by Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC). The subcommittee’s hearing focused on biotechnology’s impact on agriculture, the food supply and the economy.

The farmer, John Reifsteck, was representing Illinois-based farmer co-operative GROWMARK, where he is board chairman and president, and the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food. He shared how biotechnology crops have helped him continue to farm in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner.

“I know firsthand the value biotech crops provide to my operation," Reifsteck said. “In the past, I have abandoned parts of fields riddled with insect damage or overcome by weeds. Harvesting these fields would not just have been an economic loss, but would have presented a real risk of physical harm to me and my employees. These are memories I won’t forget. But they represent challenges that biotechnology has helped me overcome.”

In comments after the hearing, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) CEO and President Chuck Conner echoed Reifsteck’s support for the Pompeo-Butterfield bill.

“There is tremendous momentum building behind H.R. 1599,” Conner said. “I think that Reifsteck laid out a great case for biotechnology’s benefits and why a uniform, federal labeling standard is needed. NCFC looks forward to working with members of the committee as the process moves forward.”

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