U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Or.) have introduced companion bills (S. 809; H.R. 1699) that would amend the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to require the makers of genetically engineered (GE) foods and foods with GE ingredients to include this information on their labels. Noting that the Food and Drug Administration stated in 1992 that such labels were unnecessary because GE foods were not “materially” different from other foods, Boxer characterized this approach as antiquated and said, “Common sense would indicate that GE corn that produces its own insecticide—or is engineered to survive being doused by herbicides—is materially different from traditional corn that does not. Even the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has recognized that these foods are materially different and novel for patent purposes.”

One Republican representative has agreed to co-sponsor the legislation; the remaining support is from Democratic senators and representatives. According to Boxer, 64 countries require GE food labels, and her “Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act” is supported by a number of organizations, including the Center for Food Safety, Environmental Working Group, Center for Environmental Health, Ben & Jerry’s, Clif Bar & Co., Lundberg Family Farms, and Nature’s Path. See U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer Press Release, April 24, 2013.