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Sasse will oppose new GMO labeling bill
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Sasse will oppose new GMO labeling bill

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Sen. Ben Sasse said Friday he'll oppose proposed bipartisan legislation supported by Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas that would establish a federal mandatory disclosure standard for bioengineered food.

"While I appreciate the work that Chairman Roberts has done," Sasse said, "I fear that this approach puts us on a path that will ultimately hurt Nebraskans by putting a liberal agenda ahead of sound science."

Sasse is a member of the Agriculture Committee; both he and Roberts are Republican farm-state senators.

"If you travel all of our 93 counties and listen to Nebraska agriculture, you'll hear a common theme: get Washington out of the way and we'll keep feeding the world," Sasse said.

"That's why I told Nebraskans in 2014 (during his Senate campaign) that I would oppose mandatory labeling of GMOs," he said.

"That hasn't changed and I won't be able to support mandatory labeling legislation next week."

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GMO is the acronymn for genetically modified organisms.

The Senate is scheduled to consider the legislation, which resulted from more than a year of negotiations.

The proposal pre-empts state laws relating to the labeling of bioengineered food or food produced using bioengineering.

Within two years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture would be required to create a national mandatory bioengineered food disclosure standard.

That disclosure standard could take the form of text, symbol, electronic or digital link.  

Last year, Sasse's staff noted, the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology recommended that mandatory labeling should occur only in situations in which the product has been scientifically demonstrated to harm human health.

Roberts and Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan crafted the bipartisan bill. Roberts has said the legislation would protect producers and inform consumers while prohibiting states or other entities from mandating labels of food or seed that is genetically engineered.

The bill exempts any type of meat product.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSDon.

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