A new GMO labeling bill was announced Thursday by Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow and Republican Senator Pat Roberts. The bipartisan bill would create a national uniform standard for labeling foods that contain genetically modified ingredients, with a mandatory discloser.
If passed, the bill would negate Vermont’s GMO labeling law, set to go into effect this Friday, July 1. As it reads, the bill, which is far more lenient than Vermont's law, would "immediately prohibit states or other entities from mandating labels of food or seed that is genetically engineered.”
Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety, Andrew Kimbrell, said that the new bill was "in many ways worse than prior iterations of the bill [best known as DARK Act for "Deny Americans the Right to Know"] that were defeated - it is a blank check for biotech."
The new bill allows producers the option of several different types of disclosers, including on-package text, a symbol, a link to a website, or even a telephone number. Very small manufacturers and restaurants would be exempted from GMO labeling.
“This proposal falls short of what consumers rightly expect, a simple, at-a-glance disclosure on the package,” said Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Just Label It.
Sen. Bernie Sanders said he would do "everything I can" to defeat the bill, according to ABC News. "People have a right to know what is in the food they eat," Sanders said.
Meat and egg products are also exempted in the new legislation; the language of the bill references GMO feed as the reason for this.
"Foods where meat, poultry, and egg products are the main ingredient are exempted," the bill reads. "The legislation prohibits the Secretary of Agriculture from considering any food product derived from an animal to be bioengineered solely because the animal may have eaten bioengineered feed."
The legislation is backed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association. If it passes, the USDA would have two years to put the labeling standards into place.
“Our marketplace — both consumers and producers — needs a national biotechnology standard to avoid chaos in interstate commerce,” Roberts said in a statement in defense of the new legislation.
Related on Organic Authority
Vermont Asks Court to Protect Its Label GMOs in Food Law from Big Food
Vermont Faces First Lawsuit Over GMO Food Labeling Law
DARK Act Fails in Senate, GMO Labeling Advocates Rejoice
Woman in the supermarket image via Shutterstock