President Obama Signs GMO-Labeling Bill


The USDA now has two years to hammer out details for implementing the federal GMO-disclosure law.

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A federal GMO-labeling law is now on the books. Late on Friday, President Obama quietly signed the Biotech Labeling Solutions Act (S. 764) into law, effectively nullifying Vermont’s mandatory GMO-labeling law and preempting any other such state-led efforts.

The law gives food manufacturers three options for the mandatory disclosure of genetically modified ingredients in food: on-package text, an on-package symbol, or an on-package digital code that directs users online for more information. Many food industry groups, such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), have celebrated the law as a non-invasive solution to GMO labeling. But critics, including consumer advocacy groups like U.S. Right to Know, say it hinders transparency by allowing food companies to place disclosures online, rather than on actual product packaging.

Now that Obama has signed the law, which passed both houses of Congress by comfortable margins, the burden is now on USDA to design rules for implementing the statute. USDA has two years to hammer out the details of how exactly the three GMO-disclosure options will work.

This morning, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN; Washington, DC) expressed appreciation for Obama’s “swift signing” of the bill.

“We extend thanks to President Obama for his signature of S. 764,” said Steve Mister, president and CEO of CRN. “This law is a constructive and practical solution for consumers seeking to educate themselves about whether food products contain genetically engineered ingredients in order to make informed purchasing decisions.”

Mister also expressed optimism that USDA will act promptly to develop and issue rules for the law’s implementation so that industry can provide feedback.

More in-depth coverage of the legislation can be found here.


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Michael Crane
Associate Editor
Nutritional Outlook Magazine

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