News & Politics

Obama Signs Mandatory GMO Labeling Bill

(AP Photo/Wilson Ring)

President Obama signed new genetically modified organism (GMO) labeling standards into law last week.

A White House spokesman said, “This measure will provide new opportunities for consumers to have access to information about their food.”

Sort of.

The federal move, backed by Big Agra and the powerful food lobby, would require food packages to display an electronic code (a QR code), text label, or some sort of symbol signifying whether or not they contain GMOs.

It’s a sneaky way of “giving access” to people with a QR code on a package. Who is going to bother with that? And that’s the point. The industry has resisted efforts to label their products with an identifiable GMO symbol. Whether GMOs pose any health risk is a hotly debated topic and there are fears the stigma of a “GMO” label might hurt sales. This “compromise” is the best GMO food manufacturers are going to get.

This didn’t win over all food-labeling advocates, however. One criticism is that the bill allowed companies to use QR codes or 1-800 numbers as a form of GMO labeling, forcing consumers to scan the code or make a call to get more information. That’s why some opponents are calling the bill the DARK Act, short for “Denying Americans the Right to Know,” and argue these alternative labels discriminate against low-income consumers who lack the technology to access off-label info. Others have criticized the bill because it isn’t as stringent as a piece of Vermont legislation that will now be superseded by the federal law.

Many food products already have a label, voluntarily included, on products that are organic or non-GMO. Why the need to label food GMO? If consumers want organic, non-GMO food, buy food that is labeled as such. This new law is just more government overreach.