Senator Jeff Merkley, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the Biotechnology Food Labeling and Uniformity Act.The legislation is endorsed by Amy’s Kitchen, Ben and Jerry’s, Campbell’s Soup Company, Consumers Union, Just Label It, and Nature’s Path.This legislation presents an alternative to the DARK act and would ensure that GMO ingredients are labeled on food packaging.
The purpose is to create uniform labeling across different states in different locations.The Biotechnology Food Labeling Uniformity Act would amend the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act to require manufacturers to disclose the presence of GM ingredients on the Nutrition Fact Panel:
- Manufacturers may use a parenthesis following the relevant ingredient to indicate that this ingredient is “Genetically Engineered.”
- Manufacturers may identify GM ingredients with an asterisk and provide an explanation at the bottom of the ingredients list.
- Manufacturers may simply apply a catch all statement at the end of the ingredient list stating the product was “produced with genetic engineering.”
- The FDA would have the authority to develop a symbol, in consultation with food manufacturers, that would clearly and conspicuously disclose the presence of GM ingredients on packaging.
“Rather than blocking consumers’ access to information they want, the U.S. Senate should move forward with a solution that works for businesses and consumers alike,” said Merkley. “There is a way to give consumers the information they are asking for without placing unfair or conflicting.
“The legislation reflects Campbell’s support for mandatory national standards for labeling of foods made with GMOs,” said Kelly D. Johnston, Vice President of Government Affairs for Campbell Soup Company. “We applaud Senator Jeff Merkley and his colleagues for responding to consumers’ desire for the information they seek in a consistent and transparent manner.”
“As a businessman, I know the value of transparency and trust. Consumers are demanding the right to know more about their food and how it’s grown, and so far, the response from Congress and many companies has been to keep them in the dark,” said Gary Hirshberg, Chairman of Just Label It and Chairman of Stonyfield Farms.
“I believe Senator Merkley’s bill is the kind of proposal that could bridge the divide between consumers and food companies on the issue of GMO labeling. This bill will give consumers the information they want, while allowing manufacturers the flexibility they say they need to implement mandatory, on-package labeling.”