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GMO Bill Aimed at Preventing Confusing Labeling Laws

Food manufacturers would have three options to show that their products contain genetically modified organisms.
June 27, 2016

​WASHINGTON – A compromise on a bipartisan bill that would require food companies to disclose on labels the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) was reached last week in the U.S. Senate, reports Law 360. Food manufacturers would have three options to show that their products contain GMOs: text, symbol or scanable codes may all be placed on product labels moving forward.

“For the first time ever, consumers will have a national, mandatory label for food products that contain genetically modified ingredients,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) said in a statement. “Throughout this process I worked to ensure that any agreement would recognize the scientific consensus that biotechnology is safe, while also making sure consumers have the right to know what is in their food.”

According to the news source, the bill was announced a week before Vermont’s GMO labeling law is set to go into effect, which could preempt state law. The legislation—proposed by two members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Stabenow and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan)—is aimed at preventing what Stabenow called “a confusing patchwork” of different GMO labeling laws. Connecticut and Maine have also passed similar laws, the news source reported.

Stabenow said the bill fixes some loopholes in the Vermont law that would have allowed processed food products such as frozen pizzas to go unlabeled if they contained both meat and GMOs. The proposed bill also ensures that makers of organic foods can put a “non-GMO” label on their products, she said.

The proposal has drawn criticism from food advocates who have pushed for food labeling laws. NACS Daily first reported on Congress’ 2015 failure to reach agreement on legislation in December.