he American Soybean Association (ASA) is calling on senators to come to the table and finalize a plan to establish a voluntary national framework for the labeling of foods containing GMOs in the wake of a hearing yesterday on Capitol Hill to examine the issues surrounding agricultural biotechnology. The hearing, before the Senate Agriculture Committee, showcased officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency—the three agencies charged with affirming the safety and market use of this technology. Additionally featured was a group of professionals at all stages in the food and farm supply chain, who talked about the impacts of biotechnology and its potential regulation on their particular industry sectors.

“We’ve seen our champions emerge from both sides of the aisle in the House, and we’ve seen interest in getting a solution put in place in the Senate,” said ASA President and Texas farmer Wade Cowan. “But we can’t afford only to flirt with this concept anymore; now is the time to come to the table, to commit, and to put a national plan in place to give consumers information they want about their food, while avoiding stigmatization of the technologies that farmers need to grow more food while using fewer resources.”

The plan advocated by ASA, as a part of the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food, would establish a voluntary national standard for foods containing biotechnology, as well as those companies that wish to market their products as non-GMO.

“We’ve seen Ranking Member Stabenow’s desire to move forward, we know of the fantastic work already put in by Sen. Hoeven, and we hope that we can gather all these parties together to find a solution before the calendar flips to 2016,” added Cowan. “Moreover, we absolutely echo Sen. Stabenow’s desire to tackle this issue this year with legislation that avoids a state-by-state patchwork of conflicting legislation. We have no interest in continuing this staggered, piecemeal fight. We’re invested in finding a long-term fix that gives consumers what they need and keeps this safe technology available and unencumbered for future use.”