WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives sent a bill to President Obama Thursday that would overturn a landmark Vermont law requiring the labeling of GMO foods.
The bill, which was backed by Monsanto and passed the House by a vote of 306-117, would give America’s largest food companies three options to label their products that contain GMO ingredients: a label on the package, a symbol on the package, or an electronic QR code that must be scanned with a smartphone to find out what is in the food.
Opponents of the bill blasted Congress for not only overturning the Vermont law but also for passing a bill that doesn’t give consumers clear information. Smaller food companies would have the option of listing a website or telephone number.
Vermont’s law was simple and would have required foods to say: “produced with genetic engineering.”
“If there is an acknowledgement about the right of a consumer to have access to information, why not give them the information in plain and simple English?” Rep. Peter Welch, a Democrat from Vermont, said on the House floor, according to the Burlington Free Press. “This is a win for Monsanto and big food producers.
“It guts Vermont’s labeling law and makes a mockery out of consumers’ right to know. Absurdly, rather than requiring a simple, plain English GMO label, it allows a producer to require shoppers to call a toll free number or look up a website on their smartphones to figure out what’s in the food they’re buying. Let’s get real. This is not a compromise. It’s a thinly disguised effort to block the right of consumers to know what’s in the food they eat.”
Obama is expected to sign the bill, although the Center for Food Safety is urging consumers to call the White House (202-456-1111) and urge him to veto it. The Bill is S. 564.
“When President Obama was running for office in 2008, he promised he’d label GMOs as President,” the Center said in an email. “This is President Obama’s last chance to get GMO labeling right – by vetoing this sham labeling bill and supporting mandatory words on the package.”