The Senate Ag Committee announced at midday today that they have reached a compromise on the long awaited GMO labeling bill. The agreement will allow companies to disclose GMO ingredients through digital codes rather than direct labeling on the package as some in the food industry had feared. The agreement will also use a comparatively narrow definition of genetic engineering, meaning some of the newest methods of biotechnology will be exempt from the national standard.
Under the bill, a copy of which was provided to some reporters, would leave most food companies the option of using either a digital scan code for smart phones or to use an on package label or symbol which will have to be approved by USDA. Any scannable codes will have the language “scan here for more food information”.
Smaller companies that would be burdened by such a system will have the option of putting a phone number or website on the package instead of the digital code. Notably, the Vermont law would require products with biotech ingredients to be labeled as produced or partially produced with genetic engineering. That language would be optional under this deal.
However, while many in the food and agricultural industries had hoped the bill would be agreed to before the Vermont law takes effect July 1st, that is now impossible. The Senate is not scheduled to look at the bill until next week. Even if they approve it, the House of Representatives has gone on their 4th of July recess a day early after House Democrats staged a sit in to protest a lack of vote on gun control legislation.