With bipartisan support, the Roberts-Stabenow Bill passed and is on its way to President Obama for a signature. The bill is intended to bring clarity to the definition and labeling of genetically modified foods. It provides for uniform labeling requirements – rather than a patchwork of state-imposed labeling laws, like the one that went into effect in Vermont on July 1, 2016.
Some say that the law only shields producers of GMO foods since the bill requires that they make the statement of content, but it can be done via a QR code which is read by a smart phone rather than a human readable statement on the package. Others argue that the complex nature of the declaration statement of GMO products requires much more information than can be carried on the package itself, so directing a customer to an all-inclusive statement on the web is actually the fullest disclosure.
Fresh produce is essentially GMO free at this point. We have all received requests to affirmatively verify that point. This new law will place the burden on the producer of GMO products to alert you to the content thereby allowing us to assume, without notification, that all products are GMO free. That method is much simpler to deal with on a daily basis.
The customer will ultimately decide. “Shoppers are our main ingredient, and what is important to them drives what we do,” said Dannon CEO Mariano Lozano.
If customers demand specific types of labeling, then producers will do so in order to gain the sale. At least now we have a definitive starting point to work from. This time the lawmakers got it right.