The Controversial GMO Labeling Bill Has Been Signed

It might have been a summer Friday, but President Obama signed a very serious bill at the end of last week—one that will require ALL food labels to list whether a product contains genetically modified ingredients, or GMOs.

While full food disclosure sounds great—and the food industry supports this particular bill—opponents of it say it’s discriminatory since the info won’t be listed directly on the label. Instead, consumers will have to scan a QR code or call a 1-800 number, making it harder to come by for anyone who lacks the technology to access it.

Another group that’s against it: the FDA, who takes the official stance that GMOs are safe to eat and this bill could actually create some loopholes and confusion. 

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“FDA has a long-held policy position that the use of genetic engineering (GE) in the production of food has not presented any safety concerns for such foods as a class, and therefore the use of GE techniques in the production of food is not a material fact that must be disclosed on the labeling of food products. Since FDA's key responsibilities and focus with respect to food are for safety, any issuance by FDA of regulations governing labeling of foods as bioengineered could be understood by the public as reflecting on the safety of such foods. In the absence of reliable data indicating any safety concerns with bioengineered foods as a class, FDA has not expressed a desire to be the responsible agency for any such regulatory program,” they said in an earlier statement.

One brand that’s already implementing the labeling is Dannon and Oikos-branded products. “Shoppers are our main ingredient, and what is important to them drives what we do. For this reason, the range of products we make is evolving to provide even more choices,” said Mariano Lozano, CEO, Dannon. “Transparency is the key word for this shift. To show to our consumers that in order to make a real choice, we need clear labels, today we are making a bold change and candidly discussing how transparency from brands is essential for shoppers to make real choices.”

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Either way, this shift won’t be happening over night. The USDA has two years to figure out all the specifics before a standard label is introduced.