Federal Legislation to Label GMOs Moves Through Senate

Back in June, a new Senate bill was proposed which would require food manufacturers to label products which contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). As of last week, the bill has cleared the first hurdle and will be debated with a limit of 30 hours on the floor, and voted on as early as this week.

For those in the food industry, there has long been wind of such an effort being made at the federal level, but until recently, none held any strength. But, with recent election cycles creating local and state regulations requiring that GMOs be identified on the label (some successful, others not), there has been an acknowledgment that some uniformity is needed at the national level in order to create continuity and consistency for manufacturers and consumers alike.

The proposed bill is a bipartisan effort, and according to its sponsors, Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the legislation will provide the certainty that everyone needs. And while this bill is certainly important to follow for all involved in the food industry, in light of the potential changes in store to be compliant with updated labeling requirements, its passage is not yet guaranteed.

Separately, the Grocery Manufacturers Association is actively fighting Vermont’s state law in the Second Circuit. The law requires GMOs to be identified on all food products sold in the state. The GMA’s arguments are based on concepts including the violation of free speech, among other theories. While that case works its way through the Second Circuit (log-in required), the federal bill’s passage may hinge on some of the legal developments and conclusions established by the judiciary’s review of the Vermont law’s language.

We will continue to monitor the evolution of this area of law.


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