Legislation requiring some foods to carry labels listing genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday. The Senate passed the bill on July 7.
Consumer groups and some Democrats argued against the bill, pointing the labeling system fails to present clear and transparent information and was instead tailored for the industry, not consumers. Republicans stressed that the legislation had a bipartisan agreement supported by science showing that GMOs are safe.
The Hill reports under the legislation, manufacturers will be allowed to use text, symbols or a QR code to relay GMO information to consumers. USDA will determine which ingredients are considered genetically modified.
According to a Reuters brief, the bill was passed by House lawmakers in a 306-117 vote and is now on the way to be signed by President Barack Obama. The White House has indicated Obama will likely sign the legislation.
Several agricultural industry organization reacted to the bill’s passage:
- American Soybean Association President Richard Wilkins: “The passage of this bill allows for both consumers and producers to move on from this fight, and benefit from a uniformed, standardized labeling law across the country. We believe this thoughtfully-crafted compromise provides consumers with the information they need, without stigmatizing a safe and sustainable food technology. We appreciate the support from House leaders to get us to this point. ASA and its state and regional affiliates now encourage President Obama to sign this bill into law. Its enactment will stop a potential patchwork of state labeling and providing farmers, producers, manufacturers and consumers peace of mind as they continue to enjoy America’s safe and affordable foods.”
- National Association of Wheat Growers President Gordon Stoner: “We applaud the House’s action in clearing this bill and sending it to President Obama. We urge him to see that this bill will inform consumers about the technologies which make their food safe and affordable, and we hope that he will sign it immediately. It is crucial that American consumers receive clear and simple information about their food, so that they will see the benefit of these technologies that supply safe, sustainably-produced food.”
- National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling: “Today, our representatives in the House built upon last week’s work in the Senate, taking another important step toward bringing consistency to the marketplace. This achievement was made possible as members of the food and agricultural value chain came together as never before to advance a solution that works for farmers, food companies and, most importantly, consumers.
- National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern: “Today’s action in the U.S. House to pass the Senate’s biotech food labeling bill is a resounding rejection of activists who have been working for years to undermine consumers’ understanding of the safety of food biotechnology. By reasserting the federal government’s role in regulating food labeling, the Congress is ending the ‘death by a thousand cuts’ approach of potentially conflicting state laws in this area.”