A national, uniform GMO (genetically modified organism) labeling law was passed by both houses of Congress in July and signed into law by President Obama that same month, but it will be a couple of years before those labels are required to make it onto packages on store shelves.
The new law requires food packages to disclose whether or not the product contains GMO ingredients, but provides flexibility in how consumers are informed. Details about what the labels will specify is being developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA has up to two years to write the rules, including setting thresholds for when labeling is required.
Earlier this year Ohio Farm Bureau asked farmers to call their elected officials to encourage them to pass legislation sponsored by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas, which would have established a national, voluntary GMO labeling standard. While the labels will not be voluntary, the law that was passed is something Farm Bureau can support.
“The GMO labeling law isn’t perfect, but it’s the result of a compromise that Farm Bureau can live with,” said Brandon Kern, Ohio Farm Bureau senior director of policy outreach. “Most importantly, the new national standard the law creates averts the confusion of having a patchwork of potentially conflicting individual state requirements. “
Farm Bureau had been working in support of a national GMO labeling law solution for some time, arguing that a national, science-based standard would protect consumers from misleading labels and higher food prices.
The law will “protect farmers and the food industry from the patchwork of state labeling laws being stitched together, which would stigmatize a valuable agricultural technology and have a chilling effect on future innovation,” American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall stated earlier this year.
Kern explains some of the details of the law in this video.