US - New legislation designed to offer consumers more information about genetically engineered ingredients in their food passed in the US House of Representatives yesterday on a vote of 306-117.
The new legislation was crafted by US Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).
Mr Roberts commented: “I’m pleased that Members of the House today sided with sound science and the American farmer." He added his praise for the unity of over 1000 organisations that supported the bill.
The bill says that bioengineered foods will not be treated as safer or less safe than non-bioengineered foods. It stated that an animal would not be "considered a bioengineered food solely because the animal consumed feed produced from, containing, or consisting of a bioengineered substance".
Companies will also be allowed to give information about foods containing GMO ingredients using a telephone number or website link (accessed from a QR code) instead of on-pack text labelling.
Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers' Federation (NMPF) commented: "Today’s action in the US House to pass the Senate’s biotech food labeling bill is a resounding rejection of activists who have been working for years to undermine consumers’ understanding of the safety of food biotechnology.
"We strongly urge President Obama to sign this legislation into law. Once this process is complete, we can begin moving beyond specious arguments over labels, terminology and absence claims, and work to address real food safety and nutrition issues, and further the sustainability of our food system.”
However, many others were not so happy with the bill, suggesting it does not offer true clarity to consumers. US Representative Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) voted against the legislation and called it a "sham".
“Food labeling needs to be simple and clear,” Mr Buchanan said. “QR codes and telephone numbers do not meet that definition. What mother shopping with her children is going to stop in the middle of the food aisle to call a company or go on a website to check the content of every product they would like to buy?”