GMO Labeling Bill Passes U.S. Senate

Reuters writer¬†Chris Prentice reported today that, “The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would for the first time require food to carry labels listing genetically-modified ingredients, which labeling supporters say could create loopholes for some U.S. crops.

“The Senate voted 63-30 for the bill that would display GMO contents with words, pictures or a bar code that can be scanned with smartphones. The U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) would decide which ingredients would be considered genetically modified.

The measure now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass.”

The article noted that, “Drawing praise from farmers, the bill sponsored by Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas and Democrat Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan is the latest attempt to introduce a national standard that would override state laws, including Vermont’s that some say is more stringent, and comes amid growing calls from consumers for greater transparency.”

The Reuters article pointed out that, “A nationwide standard is favored by the food industry, which says state-by-state differences could inflate costs for labeling and distribution. But mandatory GMO labeling of any kind would still be seen as a loss for Big Food, which has spent millions lobbying against it.”

And Des Moines Register writer Christopher Doering reported in today’s paper that, “Under the Senate bill, major food-makers would have three options to notify consumers if a product contains GMO ingredients: words, a symbol created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or an electronic option such as a QR code.

Small food manufacturers could use websites or telephone numbers to satisfy disclosure requirements, while those defined as very small, along with restaurants, would be exempt.

“Critics have said the bill exempts many foods from the labeling standards, lacks enforcement teeth for companies that fail to comply and depends on a flawed QR code. The poor, elderly and those in rural areas may not have a smartphone to scan the QR code, or reliable internet access in their grocery store to check on the contents of foods they buy.”

Meanwhile, in a separate article, that appeared on the front page of today’s Des Moines Register, Christopher Doering reported that, “DuPont Pioneer, Monsanto and other companies working on genetically modified technologies are focusing more attention on creating foods that improve public health and provide convenience for shoppers.

“For the industry, which has weathered growing criticism for biotech crops that have helped protect farmers from pests and diseases, expanding into products such as potatoes, pineapples, tomatoes and healthier soy oils could be a way to improve its image.”

Today’s article added that, “Monsanto has not only delved into healthier soybeans, but also scores of fruits and vegetables using traditional breeding.

“Not all its work has proved to be a hit with the consumer. A broccoli marketed since 2012 that claimed to maintain antioxidant levels was pulled last year because its grower was unable to produce enough of the product with the same consistency to be profitable.”

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