The House & Senate have approved GMO labeling legislation and the President will soon sign it into law. While a few legislators were unhappy, this compromise is in the best interest for the country. Republicans and lawmakers from rural states overwhelmingly supported the legislation. Agriculture groups have backed it, hoping it will bring more certainty to farmers who grow genetically modified crops. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, U.S. farmers have adopted genetically engineered (GE) crops widely since their commercial introduction in 1996.
About the GMO Legislation
USDA will have two years to write the rules of the new legislation, which will cover foods created with conventional recombinant DNA techniques. It will not extend to plants or other food products created with CRISPR, a new and more precise gene-editing technology. Foods that consist primarily of beef, poultry, pork or eggs will not be required to carry a GMO label, even if they ate feed containing GM corn or soybeans.
As The Hill noted, the initiative would force food companies to “create QR codes that consumers scan with a smartphone to find out if a product contains GMOs.” The aforementioned states require labels to identify goods “produced with genetic engineering.”1
Regulation on Food Safety Should Not Change State to State
“Averting a confusing patchwork of state labeling mandates serves the American economy, farmers and ranchers, and consumers well,” U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts said.
With respect to existing state food labeling standards, the legislation mandates that no state establish (or continue in effect) any bioengineered food labeling or disclosure requirements for food that is involved in interstate commerce and subject to the national bioengineered food disclosure standard that are not identical to the national bioengineered food disclosure standard. The legislation would also prohibit state labeling requirements for seed that is genetically engineered or that was developed or produced using genetic engineering.
Time to Move On.
The food industry is more accepting of a uniform national standard as opposed to state-based regulations. Advocates for labeling and the food industry, which has fought mandatory labeling, have wanted to find a national solution to avoid a state-by-state patchwork of laws. The food industry supports the legislation, which was the result of bipartisan Senate negotiations. But some consumer advocates do not, arguing that many consumers won’t be able to read electronic labels and that there aren’t enough penalties for companies that don’t comply.
“The passage of this bill allows for both consumers and producers to move on from this fight, and benefit from a uniformed, standardized labeling law across the country,” said Richard Wilkins, president of the American Soybean Association. “We believe this thoughtfully-crafted compromise provides consumers with the information they need, without stigmatizing a safe and sustainable food technology.”
About GMO Foods
Genetically modified foods are plants or animals that have had genes copied from other plants or animals inserted into their DNA. While farmers have been selectively breeding plants for centuries, this manipulation is done in a lab, speeding up the process by transferring a gene from one plant or animal to another. The engineering is done to create certain traits, like resistance to herbicides.
The bulk of the nation’s genetically engineered crops are corn and soybeans that are eaten by livestock or made into popular processed food ingredients such as cornstarch, soybean oil or high-fructose corn syrup. Only a handful of genetically engineered fruits and vegetables are available in the produce aisle, including Hawaiian papaya, some zucchini and squash and some sweet corn.
The food industry says 75% to 80% of foods contain genetically modified ingredients — most of those corn and soy-based. The Food and Drug Administration and multiple science-based studies affirm they are safe to eat.
- http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/36749-senate-advances-gm-food-labeling-bill-that-would-actually-weaken-state-rules-exempt-key-products [↩]