Republican Sen. Pat Roberts has unveiled a plan, negotiated with Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, for mandatory national standards for GM disclosure on food products.
Under the plan, “food companies would be required to disclose which products contain genetically modified ingredients. But companies would have a range of options in just how they make that disclosure: They could place text on food packaging, provide a QR (Quick Response) code, or direct consumers to a phone number or a website with more information.”
The federal compromise undercuts a state law in Vermont, passed in 2014 (but set to take effect in one week, July 1, 2016), which would have required a label for all food products made with GM ingredients.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, who supported his state’s labeling law, opposed the compromise. Some express concern that the options for disclosure are too diverse to be effective.
The response from advocacy group Just Label It: “We are disappointed that the proposal will require many consumers to rely on smart-phones to learn basic information about their food. Now, the fight will shift to the marketplace and to USDA. This proposal falls short of what consumers rightly expect — a simple at-a-glance disclosure on the package.”
Opponents of GMO labeling, like Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, are pleased the federal mandate will solve the issue of patchwork state laws, but contend that the science bears out the safety equivalency of GMO foods, and laws shouldn’t be stigmatizing one type of food over another.