Congress Replaces Genetically Modified Label Laws

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July 1, 2016 was the key deadline to comply with Vermont’s labeling law that required that foods sold in retail stores to bear mandatory labels if they contain genetically modified organism (GMO) ingredients. The state law also prohibited manufacturers from packaging foods as “natural” or “all natural” when they in fact contain GMO ingredients.

Two weeks after the Vermont deadline had already passed, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 306-117 to supersede state labeling laws with new national label requirements that had already been passed by the Senate and are expected to be signed by President Obama.

According to our industry association, the Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute, “Companies will be permitted to disclose GMO ingredients through one of three options: •    List GMO ingredients on-package using words •    Utilize a symbol (to be created by the USDA) to indicate GMO ingredients •    Utilize a bar code option, such as a QR code, compatible with smartphone technology to inform consumer of GMO ingredients.

[The new regulation] supersedes state requirements, including the recently enacted Vermont GMO labeling law. It also prevents states from passing future legislation governing GMO labeling. Even with expanded options and flexibility provided as part of the compromise bill, on-package labeling for food containing GMOs will be required. Foods where meat, poultry, and egg products are the main ingredients are exempt from disclosure.”

The new deadline is expected to occur in 2018 or 2019, similar to new requirements for Nutrition Facts labeling. As a label company right across the border from Vermont, Electronic Imaging Materials, Inc. has assisted a number of our customers to prepare for the original July 1 deadline. From this experience, we know that documenting every ingredient that has not been genetically modified is time-consuming. We can help make revising your food labels the easy part of the process.