Soon all food packages sold in the U.S. will have to have the proper labeling.
On Friday President Obama signed bill S. 764 that puts into place a federal standard for foods that have been made with genetically modified organisms, ABC News reports. This move comes just about two weeks after Congress passed legislation to necessitate labeling on all food packages that indicates whether or not they contain GMO ingredients. “This measure will provide new opportunities for consumers to have access to information about their food,” Katie Hill, White House spokesperson, told the news outlet.
This didn’t win over all food-labeling advocates, however. One criticism is that the bill allowed companies to use QR codes or 1-800 numbers as a form of GMO labeling, forcing consumers to scan the code or make a call to get more information. That’s why some opponents are calling the bill the DARK Act, short for “Denying Americans the Right to Know,” and argue these alternative labels discriminate against low-income consumers who lack the technology to access off-label info. Others have criticized the bill because it isn’t as stringent as a piece of Vermont legislation that will now be superseded by the federal law. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was among the federal bill’s critics, and urged his Twitter followers to contact their senators about the bill earlier this month.
GMOs are estimated to be in the majority of our food, somewhere between 75% and 80%. The Food and Drug Administration has said that they are safe for consumption, but most consumers argue that, safe or not, they have the right to know exactly what is in their food. American companies say that it’s too expensive to add GMO labeling to their packaging, but former financial and food industry analyst Robyn O’Brien pointed to 64 countries where they are already required to include those labels.
The details of this new bill have yet to be worked out. That responsibility falls on the Department of Agriculture, which will have two years to write up the rules.