The law is widely seen as a victory for food companies and a significant setbeck for labeling activists.
Late last week, the House voted 306-117 in favor of a bill requiring labels on GMO foods. The bill was approved by the Senate just days before and is expected to be signed into law by President Obama.
The bill gives food companies three options for labeling GMOs products: a symbol, a written statement, or a QR code. If passed, it will override a much-tougher state law, Act 120, that was passed in Vermont and went into effect July 1.
GMOs are prevalent in many common products in both food and medicine. According to The Non-GMO Project, a Bellingham, Washington-based think tank and watchdog group, about 90 percent of U.S.-grown alfalfa, cotton, canola, corn, soy, papaya, sugar beets, zucchini, and yellow summer squash are genetically modified.
The scientific community overwhelmingly believes GMOs are safe. Regardless, labeling supporters believe consumers have the right to know what they’re eating so they can make informed choices. In 2013, a New York Times poll indicated that more than 93 percent of respondents favored GMO labeling.
The new GMO labeling bill is widely viewed as a victory for the food industry and a significant setback for labeling advocates calling for greater transparency. Walmart and Monsanto both lobbied for the new bill.
Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Stonyfield Farm and a vocal labeling supporter and activist, said in a statement that the bill “falls short of what consumers rightly expect – a simple at-a-glance GMO disclosure on the package.”