Posted on Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016 at 5:30 pm
President Obama has signed S. 764, a bill that (among other things) includes a national bioengineered food disclosure standard. What does this mean for consumers?
It’s still being worked out.
The law requires the Secretary of Agriculture to come up with a national labeling standard that would be placed on packages of food that contain GMOs. The time frame for that is within the next two years.
In other words, the bill has been signed into law, but the law isn’t ready to immediately be enforced. When everything is ready, the entire United States will have the exact same GMO labeling law in place.
It overturns States GMO labeling laws.
Vermont already had a GMO labeling law in place. It required foods that contained GMOs to be have a label on the package that said “produced with genetic engineering”. The law signed by President Obama overturns that law (and other state GMO labeling laws). Opponents of the bill prefer stricter GMO labeling laws than what is included in the new federal law.
There are three options for labeling.
The new law gives food manufacturers three options that they can use to label packages that contain GMOs. One option is to carry a text label (similar to the Vermont law). Another option is to put a symbol on the package that indicates that the food inside includes GMOs.
The third option is to put a QR code on the label. People who have smartphones can scan the electronic code that is on a package to find out whether the food contains GMOs. It would lead to a website that shows the information. Opponents of the law point out that not everyone has a smartphone, and this could leave many consumers unable to read the GMO label.
Foods can still be labeled organic.
The wording of the bill states that food that is certified under the national organic program (which was established under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990) can still be labeled organic. The organic label will be considered sufficient to make the claim that the organic food does not contain GMOs.
This means that people who have concerns about GMOs have the potential to completely avoid them by purchasing organic foods. In order to meet the USDA organic regulations, farmers and processors must show they aren’t using GMOs and that they are protecting their products from contact with GMOs from farm to table.