House Passes National GMO Labeling Bill

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Washington — The House of Representatives passed national GMO labeling legislation, with a final vote of 306 to 117, NCA reports. The House bill is the same as the one passed by the Senate this past week.

The legislation is still pending President Obama’s signature to become law and indications are that he will approve the bill, according to the Association. Once finalized, it will preempt Vermont’s Act 120 GMO standard.

The USDA has two years to define many of the requirements, according to NCA, but some have already been finalized. These include requirements for disclosure of genetically modified (GMO or GE) ingredients through the use of a text statement or symbol, as determined by the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service, or with a digital QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone. Further, some companies will have the option of offering a phone number or web URL on packs as a form of GMO disclosure.

In addition, restaurants and other organizations defined as “very small” will be exempt from the requirements and foods made from animals will not be considered GE solely because the animal consumed GE feed, according to NCA.

For companies that have already made moves to comply with Vermont’s law, the Association reports the federal bill will not immediately render those products non-compliant.

Although an implementation date for the federal law has yet to be set, NCA reports rules regarding the law must be finalized within two years of federal enactment — meaning the bill will not impact the market until 2018, with the possibility of the compliance date being even later.

“While sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged and think that Washington doesn’t do a lot, we are pleased today to see a bi-partisan effort come together to do what is right for confectioners and food makers across America,” says NCA President and CEO John H. Downs, Jr.