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The battle for truth in labeling with GMO products has been a hard-fought one. Many consumers have long asked for clear indications of which foodstuffs include genetically modified ingredients, and which do not. Producers of these products, on the other hand, have resisted such regulations: often employing the argument that uninformed consumers will avoid GMO products under the guise of safety, without any comprehensive understanding of the real risks and benefits involved with said ingredients.
Not too long ago, a state legislation in the small, yet powerful Vermont forced major labeling changes for some giants in the food industry. The law required products sold in Vermont to be clearly labeled that they were “produced with genetic engineering.” This change forced certain producers to make the change in labeling on a national scale, since their packaging occurred in one facility, and it would be too difficult to manufacture labels exclusively for Vermont-bound products.
Now, the issue has reached congress, where a bill was passed that–once signed by president Obama–will supercede the Vermont law which had already gone into effect. Rather than plain text, the national law would require “a text label, a symbol or an electronic code readable by a smartphone that indicates whether the food contains genetically modified ingredients, or GMOs.”
This national measure has some upset, arguing that these types of symbolic or electronic labels are a half-measure, not entirely transparent, and not designed with the convenience of the customer in mind.
Whether stricter mandatory labelling bills will be passed is yet to be seen, however one thing is for sure: this one is a step in the right direction.