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GMO Labeling Bill Heads to the President’s Desk

July 14, 2016

President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the McIntosh family farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa. Photo credit: USDA

President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the McIntosh family farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa. Photo credit: USDA

The tug-of-war over GMO (genetically modified organisms) labeling is nearly over as this week Congress has finally agreed upon and sent a bill to the President’s desk.

On Thursday July 14, 2016, the House of Representatives passed, by a 306-117 margin, the GMO labeling bill (S. 764) crafted by Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) in consultation with industry groups.

The Roberts-Stabenow bill had previously passed the Senate on July 7 by a vote of 63-30 and now heads to President’s Obama’s desk. The White House has indicated that the President will sign the bill.

Once signed into law, the bill will preempt state authority across the country and nullify Vermont’s first-of-its-kind mandatory GMO labeling law.

In place of state authority, the bill would establish a complex federal “bioengineered food” disclosure system, which would give large food companies three options for labeling GMO ingredients: a barcode or QR code on packages that would require a smartphone app in order for consumers to find out more information about a product, an on-package symbol (to be created by USDA) denoting GMO ingredients, or an on-package statement that the product contains GMOs. The bill defines what types of biotechnology and what types of products, albeit vaguely, that will need to be labeled under the new regulations.

Upon enactment, the implementation phase of the GMO labeling policy will begin. The first step of this process will start with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). AMS will have two years to develop rules and regulations for the national labeling systems.

To read more about the lead up to Thursday’s House passage of the Roberts-Stabenow GMO labeling bill, as well as potential regulatory flashpoints and pitfalls, please read our previous blog post on the matter.

Categories: General Interest

5 responses to “GMO Labeling Bill Heads to the President’s Desk”

  1. Trex says:

    This is going to be a tedious task…bar coding all products to determine if it is full of crap the makers of these rules wouldn’t feed their own families.
    We the people have the right to know what goes in our food, the fact that some people don’t want us to know is one of the most profound indications it’s not suitable for human consumption.
    I will make it my personal mission to inform the public which products contain these barbarically modified components.

  2. Mary says:

    I wish the President would talk to his wife and realize the consumers want to know the types of products in their food. Now it really is “Buyer Beware.” The corporations have won again!

  3. Jan Dietrick says:

    Some critics say it is voluntary and others that it is mandatory. If it really is mandatory as some say, what are the consequences for not labeling when there are GMOs in the product or fed to the animals that the product is made from?

  4. Vivianne says:

    I am totally not happy with this disregard of the general public’s response and the ruling for it. The people want to know what is in the food being bought…and business does not want us to know. So business gets to tell the public what it wants no matter what? This is beyond wrong. The lies being told and the real testing shows this business deal is not a ‘deal’ for the public..it is just for the bottom line for business. People knowing there are GMO foods in a product will most likely not buy it…That is the real reason for taking up time to stop us from knowing the truth. They are buying my government to stop us from knowing what we are eating. This hads to stop.

  5. Reana Kovalcik says:

    Hi Jan,

    The enforcement parameters of this legislation are very unclear right now and will likely be quite soft, one of many reasons it received so much opposition.