More reports on: Agriculture

US senate passes mandatory GMO labeling bill

11 July 2016

The US senate last week passed legislation to establish the first mandatory requirements for food companies to label products that contained genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The bill passed by a vote of 63-30.

The legislation would override state labeling laws, reports CQ Roll Call, where states such as Vermont already had in place a law that required the labeling of foods that contain GMOs. Though US senator Bernie Sanders offered an amendment to the legislation that would make Vermont's consumer-friendly labelling requirement the national standard, it did not pass.

''Under Vermont's law and my amendment, consumers can glance quickly at a product and be able to determine the GMO contents with no need for a smartphone or internet connection,'' Sanders said of his amendment. ''What makes sense is to build on what Vermont has done, not come up with an unenforceable, confusing, weak piece of legislation paid for by the large food corporations in this country.''

CQ Roll Call noted that GMO labeling laws in Connecticut and Maine had not taken effect  yet, and Alaska had a mandatory labeling law for GMO shellfish and fish that would take effect when FDA-approved genetically engineered salmon hit the market.

US senator Lisa Murkowski (Republican-Alaska) opposed the bill on the senate floor, as it did not mandate clear, unequivocal labels on genetically engineered (GE) salmon, while also preempting Alaska's labeling law.

''What we've been told is that if these genetically engineered salmon are out on the market, those who are marketing these salmon can voluntarily label them. Well let me ask you, who do you think is really going to voluntarily place a label on something that says, ''This is not the real thing. This is not your wild Alaska salmon. This is a genetically engineered species?' The reality is we will not see the labeling that I, as an Alaskan, who is putting fish on the dinner table for my family would require and would want. My opposition here is to anything that would mistakenly allow genetically engineered salmon into anyone's home and have it be mislabeled as salmon.''

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