July 14, 2016
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