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U.S. Senate Backs Federal GMO Labeling

Legislation would establish mandatory requirements for labeling food products that contain genetically modified organisms.
July 11, 2016

​WASHINGTON – Last week the U.S. Senate passed legislation to establish the first mandatory requirements for food companies to label products that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The legislation would override state labeling laws, reports CQ Roll Call, where states such as Vermont already have in place a law that require the labeling of foods that contain GMOs. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) offered an amendment to the legislation that would make Vermont’s consumer-friendly labeling requirement the national standard, but it did not pass.

“Under Vermont's law and my amendment, consumers can glance quickly at a product and be able to determine the GMO contents with no need for a smartphone or internet connection,” Sanders said of his amendment. “What makes sense is to build on what Vermont has done, not come up with an unenforceable, confusing, weak piece of legislation paid for by the large food corporations in this country.”

The news source notes that GMO labeling laws in Connecticut and Maine have not taken effect yet, and Alaska has a mandatory labeling law for GMO shellfish and fish that will take effect when FDA-approved genetically engineered salmon goes on the market.

Jonathan Mudd, a spokesperson for Mars Inc., told CQ Roll Call that the company would continue to provide the on-label information on GMO products while the Agriculture Department conducts its own rule-making.

“We are going to watch the USDA process to see if a better alternative approach is developed,” Mudd said in an email response to the news source. “This will take a while, though. So, for the moment, we are staying the course with our labeling policy as it satisfies two important goals: to underscore the importance of adhering to the highest standards of quality and food safety, and to address our consumers’ information needs.”