Congress Approves GMO Labeling Bill

Connor  Hoffman
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Posted: Jul 25, 2016 3:00 PM
Congress Approves GMO Labeling Bill

Congress passed a bill last week that will require companies to label their food to reflect that they contain genetically modified ingredients. 

The legislation passed by Congress and waiting on Barack Obama's signature would require food packages to carry a text label, a symbol or an electronic code that smartphones can read that identifies that the package contains GMOs. 

Pamela Bailey, the chief executive of the Grocery Manufacturers Association described the passage of the bill as a huge victory.

"Today's vote is a resounding victory not only for consumers and common sense but also for the tremendous coalition of agricultural and food organizations that came together in unprecedented fashion to get this solution passed," said Bailey.

The House approved the bill 306-117 on Thursday, and the Senate passed the bill over the strong objections made by Vermont's representatives. Both Sens. Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy argued that the bill does not go far enough and compared it to their states tougher GMO requirements. The Vermont law requires the food to be have a label that says "produced with genetic engineering."

"The Stabenow-Roberts GMO bill is confusing, misleading and unenforceable. It does nothing to make sure consumers know what they're eating," tweeted Sanders on Wednesday. 

The federal law renders Vermont and other state's GMO labeling laws null and void. "It's a shame that Congress chose to replace our standard with a weaker one that provides multiple ways for the food industry to avoid transparent labeling," said Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin. 

Many have argued that the bill is pandering to the interests of big business by allowing them to use the code option. Rep. Jim McGovern described the bill as catering to a few special interests and not to the American consumers. 

The food industry argues that GMOs are not harmful to people, and that the labels could mislead people into believing they are bad. They have pointed out that 75-80 percent of foods contains genetically modified ingredients, which the FDA says are safe to eat.

Many now believe that the fight for clear GMO labels is now in the hands of the USDA which has to come up with the new rules and regulations for these labels. 

"The fight for national mandatory GMO transparency now shifts to USDA and to the marketplace, where companies should think twice before they remove GMO labels from their packages," said Gary Hirshberg, the chairman of the Just Label It coalition.