Food manufacturers were dealt a setback in December when Congress adjourned without taking action on legislation to set a national standard for labels on food products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The industry had hoped lawmakers would override regulation at the state level. Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), says a patchwork of state regulations would be costly and create confusion in the marketplace.

“There is bipartisan agreement that genetic engineering should not be stigmatized; it is the technology that feeds a hungry and growing world,” Bailey says. “And, there is bipartisan agreement that a 50-state patchwork of laws would be disastrous for farmers, food companies and consumers.”

Bailey says she is hopeful Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack can broker a compromise to adopt a national labeling standard early this year.