Critics say the bill is too lax
President Barack Obama has signed a
controversial bill into law requiring the
labeling of genetically modified
ingredients, The Associated Press reports.
The legislation requires that companies
include labels on packaging for food
containing GMO ingredients and preempts
laws in states like Vermont with individual
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will
have two years to develop the rules.
Under the new law, companies will be
required to disclose genetically modified
ingredients through text labels, symbols,
or scannable QR codes. The new labeling
standard is unprecedented in the United
States where food companies and the
agriculture industry have long fought to
prevent labels that they argue mislead
consumers with bad science . Proponents
of the bill say that the federal law will help
streamline regulations and avoid a
complex web of individual state
The new federal labeling law will
supercede strict GMO regulations that
recently went into effect in Vermont .
Critics of the national law — including
Senator Bernie Sanders — say the
standards don’t go far enough. Not all
consumers, they argue, have access to
QR code-reading technology. The law has
also been accused of lacking teeth, with
few or no penalties for companies that
violate the labeling standards.
The F.D.A. has also spoken out against
the law, arguing that the definition of
“bioengineering” in the bill is too narrow
and would not apply to many foods that
come from genetically engineered
sources. Gene-edited foods , for example,
do not fall into the category of “GMO”
based on the language in the law. The
food and agriculture industries reluctantly
threw support behind the federal law.
While GMOs remain a controversial,
there’s a general consensus within the
scientific community that genetically
modified foods are safe to eat. Numerous
studies have shown no adverse health
effects associated with the consumption
of GM crops. Still, some critics of GMOs
argue that the crops encourage greater
use of herbicides and cause damage to
the environment. Roughly 70 percent of
genetically modified foods sold in the
U.S. contain some GMO ingredients.