GMO Labeling Update: Some Senators Calling for On-Package Text to disclose the presence of GM Ingredients
As previously reported on this blog, legislation requiring labeling of genetically modified (GM) foods and food ingredients was signed into law on July 29, 2016. This law, entitled the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop regulations and standards to create mandatory disclosure requirements for bio-engineered foods by July 2018. Under the new law, food companies would have three options to disclose GMO ingredients: the use of on-package text, a USDA-created symbol, or an internet link — i.e., a QR code printed on the package that directs customers to GMO information.
Earlier this month, eleven senators, led by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), wrote a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue recommending that “bioengineered ingredient disclosures should consist of clearly worded, on-package text labels indicating the presence of [ ] ingredients.” The senators further stated that “QR codes or other electronic disclosure methods should not be used until broadband internet access and smartphone adoption are near universal, and no longer present obstacles to consumer access to bioengineered ingredient information.”
As the law specifically authorizes the use of on-package text, a USDA-created symbol, or an internet link to covey the presence of GM ingredients to consumers, it remains to be seen what impact, if any, the senators’ letter will have on the forthcoming mandatory disclosure requirements. We will continue to monitor developments on the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard and report them to you here.