House Republicans and Democrats passed a bill yesterday requiring food manufacturers to label any product made with genetically modified ingredients. It is the first federal law to do so.
“While there is broad consensus that foods from genetically engineered crops are safe, we appreciate the bipartisan effort to address consumers’ interest in knowing more about their food, including whether it includes ingredients from genetically engineered crops,” White House spokeswoman Katie Hill said in an e-mail. “We look forward to tracking its progress in the House and anticipate the president would sign it in its current form.”
Manufacturers that choose not to label their products would be permitted to use a symbol, bar, or QR code that buyers can scan with a smartphone to find out if their food has been made with any genetically engineered ingredients. Fruit and vegetable growers would also be required to use the labeling system.
If signed into law by Obama, the Department of Agriculture would have two years to develop definitions on what exactly constitutes “genetically engineered.” As it now stands, foods made with small amounts of GMO ingredients that get lost during processing may not require labeling. Other foods, like cheese made with genetically engineered enzymes, could also be excluded, according to reports, along with beef, pork, poultry, and eggs.