In the weeks leading up to Nov. 4, numerous media sources referred dismissively to the 2014 election as “a vote about nothing.” Regardless of how the election looked prospectively, it’s obvious that the results are anything but unimportant to grain-based foods. Resounding victories in key contests that will give Republicans control of the Senate promise to meaningfully change the regulatory environment for the balance of the Obama administration.
Because of voter sentiment and with chairmanships of Senate committees returning to the G.O.P., beginning with Thad Cochran as a likely successor to Debbie Stabenow running the Agriculture Committee, a more measured approach to regulation is anticipated. A less intrusive tack with a solid grounding in sound science would represent a welcome change in proposed rulemaking around Nutrition Facts Panel labeling. Conversely, an area of gridlock that may be broken moving forward relates to the passage of trade pacts negotiated with Europe and the Far East by the administration.
Election positives were not limited to the congressional votes. Several ballot initiatives that would have required labeling of bioengineered ingredients failed, handily in Colorado. While this issue certainly has not been laid to rest, the track record of success has been encouraging, if also quite expensive. Perhaps the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which would preempt state mandates to label bioengineered foods, has improved prospects as well.