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Few details forthcoming from GMO labeling meeting

Camps continue to draw their lines in the sand on GMO labeling initiatives, while Maine looks to implement its own.

No new consensus has been revealed following a meeting with 10 food, agricultural, biotech and pro-labeling groups that were invited to a meeting with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last week.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman declined to comment on any details of the meeting. Vilsack had said earlier in the week he would be trying to find common ground on the topic and take what he gleaned to the House and Senate agriculture committees. There is a need to find a workable solution on labeling genetically modified organisms (GMOs) ahead of implementation of Vermont’s labeling law this July.

The issue may also take on new importance as reports indicate that Maine may try to take up its own labeling measure again. In January 2014, Maine crafted a law requiring genetically engineered food to be labeled if five contiguous states, including Maine, pass labeling laws. Some lawmakers may try to repeal the trigger, which would put the law into effect. The key State House panel is expected to take up the issue in the coming weeks.

The Coalition for Safe & Affordable Food pushed its TV ads, tweeting: "As Congress stalls, harmful state laws are threatening family farms." They’ve argued that farmers and families will pay the price if Congress fails to act.

Meanwhile, the Just Label It campaign continues to call for all GMOs to be labeled, saying it is the only guarantee to let consumers know what’s in their food.  

Campbell’s mixed things up when it announced recently that it supports a federal standard for mandatory GMO labeling and will pull out of any industry coalitions that are pushing for federal pre-emption or voluntary labeling.

In the announcement, Campbell also stated that it will now start disclosing the presence of GMOs on all of its U.S. products, with claims such as “partially produced with genetic engineering” included on the on-pack labels. Campbell noted that while it supports mandatory GMO labeling, the company continues to recognize that biotechnology and GMOs are safe.

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