Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) discussed yesterday at a press conference on Capitol Hill the food industry’s efforts to gain passage of Kansas Republican Mike Pompeo’s bill, which would codify the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s voluntary GMO-free labeling standards and preempt state laws.  DeFazio is the sponsor of a bill that would mandate GMO labeling nationally.  He said on Thursday that it is only a matter of time before even the food industry comes around.

“Right now a lot of food manufacturers are just going along for the ride with this thing because the easiest thing to do is to give into their more outspoken and hard-right colleagues in the industry,” DeFazio said. “But when a number of states have adopted these measures, you are going to see a schism in the industry, and some of them are going to say, ‘Hey it’s not a big deal, we are going to label.’ And at that point, you are going to see a titanic battle here in D.C. over whether or not states will get preempted. Pompeo bill is just the first shot,” DeFazio said.

The Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food said in a press release that the push for a mandatory labeling law is “misguided” and reiterated that such a system would increase food prices and burden farmers. The group’s efforts “mislead consumers about GMOs, which are perfectly safe, and represent a thinly veiled effort to remove modern biotechnology from American agriculture,” Claire Parker, a spokeswoman for the coalition, said in a statement.  “While mandatory labeling proponents say their movement is about consumer choice, the reality is that consumers already have those choices today and GMOs are among the most important tools that allow farmers and food producers to provide safe and affordable food choices to America’s families.”