A New Twist in the GMO Labeling Law

Several of the nation’s largest food producers, including General Mills, PepsiCo, and Campbell Soup have already begun updating their packaging to comply with Vermont’s new labeling requirements for foods with GMO ingredients. EPI has been following the development of GMO labeling and providing updates over the past few months. Like many others we have wondered if GMO labeling would stand the test of time. We even wrote a blog post about Vermont’s GMO labeling law titled “Will Vermont’s new law, requiring GMO labels, be the trigger that changes the nationwide rules?

As of right now it looks as though Vermont’s labeling requirements will be short lived because at the end of July President Obama signed S. 764 into law. This law overturns existing state labeling laws in Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine. It also directs the Secretary of Agriculture to come up with a national labeling standard in the next 2-3 years. The tiny lines of text that some food producers have already gone ahead with could be replaced with something as obscure as a barcode.

GMO

According to Katie Hill, White House spokesperson, “This measure will provide new opportunities for consumers to have access to information about their food.” But will it?

The DARK Act

What is the “DARK Act?”

Some opponents are calling bill S. 764 the DARK Act, “Denying Americans the Right to Know,” because the bill allows GMO labels to come in the form of a QR code or 1-800 number. Who wants to spend hours in the supermarket calling or searching websites on every product in their cart? Plus, the digital divide is real! Many people don’t have smartphones or Internet access leaving many Americans without access to food information because of the labeling system.

The Food and Drug Administration has said GMOs are safe for consumption, but not everyone agrees. And, safe or not, consumers have the right to know what is in their food.

Critics have said the bill would make it hard to find out about GMO ingredients. It has also been said that the bill uses definitions that would shield things from having to be labeled such as high-fructose corn syrup.

What does this bill really mean for food labeling? Only time will tell. We will continue to keep you updated with the new rules as this law develops.