Thursday the House of Representatives passed legislation that says food companies do not need to disclose genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) on their labels. Several states around the country had hoped to make GMO labeling mandatory, but the House bill defeats those efforts.
The legislation passed 275–150 and was backed by the food industry which has been fighting GMO labeling in the states. So far, Vermont is the only state to pass legislation that would require GMO labels by 2016. However, the food industry does plan to fight that decision as well.
The food companies behind the prevention of GMO labeling are saying they are tested and safe, and they fear that labeling them would cause disinformation and confusion. They also feel that a smattering of different labeling laws around the country would be confusing and expensive for them to maintain.
“The reality is, biotechnology has time and time again proved safe,” the bill’s sponsor, Kansas Republican Mike Pompeo, said on the House floor. “We should not raise prices on consumers based on the wishes of a handful of activists.”
However supporters of GMO labeling believe that people have the right to know what is in their food, and espouse the decision to take away the state’s ability to legislate labeling.
Many GMO’s are targeted toward bioengineering seeds to be resistant to herbicides. Currently, the majority of U.S. corn and soybean crops are genetically modified. The bulk of which goes to feeding livestock, and to the manufacturing of processed foods like corn starch, high-fructose corn syrup, and soybean oil.
The food industry says that about 75 to 80 percent of foods now contain some GMOs. The FDA says that GMO’s are safe, and the federal government continues to resist mandatory GMO labeling. The House bill will create additional standards for labeling if the FDA ever pushed for it, and make the process much more difficult.
The bill will also create a new certification process for foods wishing to advertise that they are GMO free.
On the other hand, a December Associated Press-GfK poll showed that two-thirds of Americans support GMO labeling on food products. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said after the vote that people who want to know what’s in their food will eventually win the fight.
It is unclear whether President Obama would sign the legislation into law if it were to pass his desk.
[Washington Post] [Photo courtesy ZeroHedge]