Congress has passed a bill that would require labels on foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. The last step is for President Obama to sign it into law.
The measure passed the House in a 306 – 117 vote on Thursday, and it was passed by the Senate last week after months of negotiations. The bill gives food companies a variety of choices when it comes to labeling their products.
This bill also upends a 2014 legislation in Vermont that created the first GMO labeling law, which mandates food makers to label, in plain English, whether products contain any genetically engineered ingredients.
In the new requirement, food companies will be allowed to use quick response (QR) codes that consumers would have to scan with their smartphones or offer phone numbers and website addresses to get GMO-related details if they are so inclined.
Consumer advocacy groups like U.S. Right to Know believe this option for companies to use QR codes “cheats consumers out of information they are entitled to have.” Co-director Gary Ruskin calls the bill a “sweetheart deal for the food and agrichemical industries, who want to keep consumers guessing about the contents of their food.”
Also on Thursday, dairy product maker Dannon announced that it has developed new yogurts with non-GMO ingredients for the first time ever. Its namesake brand and its Greek yogurt line Oikos, will have fewer ingredients and non synthetic substances.
Dannon, the US subsidiary of Danone (BN.PA) also announced that it would be clearly labeling its GMO ingredients, independent of actions taken by the government.
“We are willing to have, on the pack of yogurt, the disclosure of any genetically modified ingredients nationwide regardless of any federal or state law by December 2017,” Dannon CEO Mariano Lozano told Yahoo Finance. “We are making very good progress in that area so we have high hopes that we can accomplish that commitment. We are going to disclose any engineered, modified ingredients on our packs nationwide for our full portfolio.”
He says that the company is catering to what customers want: more information about the foods they are eating.
“Consumers are the heart of all of our strategy. There is no doubt that there is increasing movement in Americans in general, but millennials, in particular, that are seeking products with more natural ingredients,” he says. “This is an important piece of transparency — you need to transmit in your labels what you have inside the product.”
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