U.S. Congress considers GMO labeling bill

April 29, 2013

According to the Huffington Post, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced bills to the Senate and House of Representatives on April 24 that would require food manufacturers to clearly label any product containing genetically engineered ingredients. Boxer and DeFazio have both previously sponsored bills that would have mandated GMO labeling, but the new “Genetically Engineered Food Right-To-Know Act” is the first genetically modified organism (GMO) labeling bill to be introduced with both bicameral and bipartisan support. The bill has nine co-sponsors in the Senate and 22 cosponsors in the House.

DeFazio said he hoped the new act would generate a “grassroots tidal wave of support” from constituents, as the National Organic Standards did when he and Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) proposed them in 1993. Sixty-four other countries, including Saudi Arabia, Russia, and China, already require GMO labeling.

There is strong opposition from the agriculture and biotech industries. A release by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) stated: “It’s important to note that the biotech industry does not oppose food labeling. However, we have opposed proposals that require food labels that could confuse consumers into believing that foods containing biotech-derived ingredients are somehow different in safety and nutritional characteristics when compared to conventional or even organic foods, when this is not the case.”

But even if the bill fails, GMO labeling could still happen driven by the private sector. Retailer Whole Foods recently announced that it would require the manufacturers of any GE foods sold in its stores to mark them as such by 2018.

Huffington Post article

BIO statement