The $1.1 trillion federal omnibus spending bill unveiled Wednesday and approved by Congress on Friday will force the FDA to find measures to label the recently approved AquaBounty GMO salmon. This announcement was made to the relief of those who have been vying for such measures since the salmon was approved for human consumption by the FDA in November.
The backdoor bill, which was included in the omnibus bill, demanded that the FDA publish final labeling guidelines for the GMO salmon before introducing it onto the market. The FDA earmarked $150,000 in funding to develop these labeling guidelines.
Senator Maria Cantwell was a staunch supporter of this mandatory labeling provision, saying in a statement that, “It’s critical that the agency develop clear and transparent labeling requirements for genetically engineered salmon,” and this if the agency does not decide to reverse the salmon’s approval entirely.
The bill also carries another win for the pro-GMO labeling crowd: it did not include the set of laws that have come to me known as the DARK act, which would have disallowed state GMO labeling laws such as the one set to go into effect in Vermont in July. This act had been passed in the House in July.
Colin O’Neil, director of agricultural policy for the Environmental Working Group, said, “We applaud Congressional leaders for rejecting efforts to block state GMO labeling laws in the omnibus. An end-of-the-year, must-pass spending bill is the wrong vehicle to address and issue as important as our right to know what’s in our food and how it’s grown.”
Because the labeling legislation was not included in the draft of the bill, Congress plans to address this issue in further detail in January.
Other elements included in the spending bill pertain to Planned Parenthood, which will retain funding despite much news to the contrary, food safety, with $2.72 billion allocated to the FDA ($132 million more than last year), funding for mammograms for women starting at age 40.
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