On July 23, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (HR 1599) passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 275 to 150. The legislation introduced by Congressmen Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) aims to replace a costly and confusing 50-state patchwork of labeling laws with a national, voluntary one regarding foods derived from modern biotechnology. It would exempt such foods from special labeling unless they pose a health or safety risk. The bill also sets criteria for biotech-free and natural labels. HR 1599 now goes to the Senate, which is working on its own version.
The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, which advocates for uniform food labeling solutions, summarized the history and purpose of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act in a July 24 blog post on the U.S. Canola Association (USCA) website. "This legislation will create a consumer-friendly, science-based, uniform food labeling framework for products produced using genetically modified ingredients," the coalition, including the USCA, stated. "[It] brings transparency and consistency to an area of food labeling where it is urgently needed."
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed on June 10 new renewable fuel percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, biodiesel, advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel produced or imported in 2014, 2015 and 2016. In a July 24 letter to EPA Administrator Regina McCarthy, U.S. Canola Association President Jeff Scott urged the EPA to support biodiesel volumes of at least 2 billion gallons for 2016 and 2.3 billion gallons for 2017.
On July 28, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a three-month highway spending bill before breaking for recess, forcing the Senate to agree to the short-term measure to avoid a lapse in funding. The new measure extends funding through Oct. 29. The Hill reported that "the two chambers have been battling over rival highway bills for a week, with the House preferring a five-month extension approved earlier this month over the Senate's bill, which would fund roads and other infrastructure projects for three years."