Senate Passes GMO Labeling Bill

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Washington — The U.S. Senate approved legislation yesterday for a mandatory disclosure of genetically engineered ingredients by a vote of 63 to 30.

NCA reports the bill gives consumers consistent and transparent labeling, while granting manufacturers the ability to choose how to best convey that information.

“The passage is the result of many months of hard work by NCA, our members and others engaged in the discussion,” says John H. Downs, Jr., Association president and CEO.

He explains that many provisions in the bill improve upon the standard previously developed in Vermont, with the most important being the ability to use a SmartLabel or similar digital code to convey ingredient information.

The legislation now moves on to the House of Representatives, and NCA is urging members and stakeholders to reach out to their representatives to encourage a vote on the bill prior to the long August Congressional recess. Should the bill pass, it will replace the Vermont standard.

In other federal news impacting the category, the FDA is extending the compliance timeline of the final rule for calorie labeling of some products sold through vending machines.

The final rule regarding these items was set to go in effect on December 1, and would have prohibited products carrying voluntary front-of-pack (FOP) labels, such as NCA’s Treat Right program. The new deadline for compliance of the nutrition-labeling rule is now July 28, 2018, according to the Association.

In addition to the extensions, Downs reports NCA and other trade organizations have sent a request to the FDA to consider additional revisions to technical requirements including aligning the FOP labeling requirements to 150 percent of the net weight font size and allowing blanket signage for gum, mints and roll candies to disclose these products contain less than 25 calories per serving.

NCA reports the FDA will formalize the compliance timeline through a Federal Register notice in the coming weeks, and will later address the Association’s technical requests through a proposed rule and comment period.