As the deadline draws closer for Congressional action preempting state laws mandating GMO food labeling, which are set to take effect next year, a late lobbying push to include a policy rider in the Omnibus appropriations legislation fell short of meeting the goal of some in the industry of a national GMO labeling compromise. The text of the bill, unveiled early Wednesday morning, is silent on broader GMO food labeling requirements. A provision aimed at genetically engineered salmon, however, may provide a glimpse into Congress’ plans in early 2016.

Last month, the FDA approved a type of salmon genetically designed to speed the growth to market size and declined to mandate special labeling for this unique salmon. Instead, the Omnibus legislation appropriates $150,000 in funding to the FDA to finalize and implement guidelines for the labeling of genetically modified salmon before allowing sale. Proponents of mandatory GMO labeling are calling the provision a victory, while those seeking a preemptive nationwide standard remain disappointed. Specifically, GMO food manufacturers worry that compliance with a patchwork of state laws could result in hundreds of million dollars in compliance costs.
Continue Reading No GMO National Labeling Standard… Yet

Waning time and higher priorities have rendered the passage of federal genetically modified organism (GMO) labeling legislation a long shot this year despite early optimism. However, a renewed emphasis on preemptive federal legislation and talks of compromise give reason to believe bipartisan legislation could be passed in the near future, possibly even early next year.

As a bit of background, the FDA currently makes no distinction between marketing requirements for GMO and non-GMO foods. Because there is broad scientific agreement that GMO foods pose no greater health risks than non-GMO foods, federal labeling requirements were long deemed unnecessary. In fact, just last week the FDA declared genetically modified salmon to be safe and denied a petition seeking mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods. However, GMO stances by companies like Chipotle and several state laws that would mandate GMO food labeling have reignited the debate. Proponents of GMO labeling mandates argue that consumers have a right to know what is in their food, whereas opponents of mandatory labeling argue that such labeling would unfairly stigmatize GMO products in the marketplace and increase costs.

Although the issue had been kept in mind by a few members of Congress, it came again to the forefront when Vermont passed a mandatory GMO labeling law set to take effect in July of 2016. Fearful of a patchwork of state laws regulating food labeling requirements, the House passed Mike Pompeo’s (R-KS) bipartisan Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act this July by a wide margin (275-150). This bill would prevent states from issuing mandatory GMO labeling requirements and would set up a federal framework under the USDA for those who wish to label their products as “GMO-free.” That bill, however, has been stalled in the Senate since.
Continue Reading Federal GMO Food Labeling Legislation Unlikely This Year But Possible in Early 2016