GMO FOOD LABELING – THE NEXT CHAPTER

The controversy continues regarding changes to food labeling laws.   In a proverbial nutshell, the issue is whether food products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) should include labels that disclose that the product includes ingredients developed through biotechnology.  Proponents call for disclosure of GMO status regardless of impact on quality, safety or the type of food product.  They seeking to pass mandatory federal, state and/or local laws that require transparent GMO labeling.  Opponents say that such labeling is divisive, confusing, costly to consumers and presents an insurmountable challenge to the food industry.

In March, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (H.R. 1599) was re-introduced for consideration by Congress.  The bill would set forth voluntary national standards (instead of state-by-state regulations) for labeling of foods derived from biotechnology, and would preempt state or local labeling requirements. The proposed law would include the establishment of labeling standards by the Department of Agriculture to identify and market products that are non-GMO.

In the meantime, efforts have been ramping up in the states to require the labeling of genetically engineered food products.  Currently Maine, Vermont and Connecticut have passed GMO labeling legislation.  At least 17 other states are currently considering some form of labeling for food products that contain genetically modified ingredients.  The lobbying on this issue will intensify, as will possible court challenges to the state laws.

A copy of the proposed H.R. 1599 can be found here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1599