Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, has introduced a bill to develop a national labeling standard for foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMO) which would pre-empt state laws, such as law in Vermont scheduled to go into effect July 1.

Roberts scheduled a meeting to consider the bill on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 10 a.m. A similar bill, HR 1599, passed in the House last year.

GMO labeling has been a controversial topic in recent months, creating a divide between some consumer groups and a majority of the food industry. Opponents of this type of legislation argue consumers have the right to know what ingredients are in their food and how they are sourced, often dubbing these laws DARK acts or the “Deny Americans the Right to Know Act,” which they say is anti-democratic.

However supporters of the legislation claim a patchwork of individual state laws on GMO labels would be costly and confusing to consumers.

“This common-sense solution will provide consumers with more information about ingredients in their food and beverage products and prevent a patchwork of confusing and costly state labeling mandates,” says Pamela Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association. “We urge senators to stand up for working families, farmers and food producers and give this proposal the bipartisan support that it deserves.”