Yesterday, U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced a bipartisan compromise bill regarding labeling of bioengineered foods, sometimes referred to as “genetically modified organisms” or “GMOs.” They stated, “This bipartisan agreement is an important path forward that represents a true compromise. Since time is of the essence, we urge our colleagues to move swiftly to support this bill.”
The bill provides for a national uniform labeling standard for the disclosure of bioengineered foods. Recognizing that label space is limited, in addition to allowing disclosure in text or a symbol on the label, the bill would alternatively allow disclosure through a digital link to a website (i.e., QR code or similar technology).
With regard to voluntary labeling, the agreement expressly allows products that do not contain bioengineered ingredients – such as organic foods – to be labeled “non-GMO.”
The law, if passed, would prevent a patchwork of state standards by preempting inconsistent state laws such as Vermont’s controversial labeling rule.
Before being signed into law, the bill needs to be approved by the Agriculture Committee, the full Senate, and the House.
We have previously written about FDA’s position on voluntary GMO-related claims here.