Senate Dems offer rival bill on GMO food labels

Senate Democrats are pushing a rival bill on labeling for genetically modified foods.

The Biotechnology Food Labeling and Uniformity Act unveiled Wednesday would require manufacturers to disclose the presence of genetically modified organisms on a product’s Nutrition Fact Panel. Manufacturers, though, would have a choice in how they comply.

They could choose to put the words “genetically engineered” in parentheses next to a relevant ingredient; identify GM ingredients with an asterisk and provide an explanation for the asterisk at the bottom of the ingredients list; or apply a catch-all statement at the end of the ingredient list stating the product was “produced with genetic engineering” ingredients.

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Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Finance: Lawmakers float criminal charges for Wells Fargo chief | Scrutiny on Trump's Cuba dealings | Ryan warns of recession if no tax reform Anti-trade senators say chamber would be crazy to pass TPP Democrats press Wells Fargo CEO for more answers on scandal MORE (Ore.), Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyOvernight Tech: TV box plan faces crucial vote | Trump transition team to meet tech groups | Growing scrutiny of Yahoo security Leahy wants Judiciary hearing on Yahoo Overnight Cybersecurity: FBI probes possible hack of Dems' phones | Trump's '400-pound hacker' | Pressure builds on Yahoo | Poll trolls run wild MORE (Vt.), Jon TesterJon TesterElection-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Democrats press Wells Fargo CEO for more answers on scandal Overnight Finance: Senate rejects funding bill as shutdown looms | Labor Dept. to probe Wells Fargo | Fed to ease stress test rules for small banks MORE (Mont.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinElection-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Senators already eyeing changes to 9/11 bill after veto override WH tried to stop Intel Dems' statement on Russian hacking: report MORE (Calif.), who offered the bill, called it a common-sense compromise to the fight over requiring mandatory labels for GMO foods. They said it would inform consumers without burdening manufacturers with a patchwork of state regulations.

Their legislation comes as the Senate is poised to vote on a Republican bill that would block states from issuing mandatory GMO labeling laws and establish a voluntary federal standard. Supporters of the GOP measure say it's necessary to provide a patchwork of state-by-state regulations. But critics of the GOP approach want a mandatory federal standard for GMO labels.

The legislation would also give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to develop a symbol, in consultation with food manufacturers, that would clearly and conspicuously disclose the presence of GMOs on packaging.

“There is a way to give consumers the information they are asking for without placing unfair or conflicting requirements on food producers,” Merkley said in a statement. “This legislation provides the common-sense pathway forward.