Senate Dems offer rival bill on GMO food labels

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 Regulation: Lawmakers look to delay labor board ruling Senate Dems offer bill to restore internet privacy rules Dem senator on Gorsuch: 'The dark deed is done’ MORE (Ore.), Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyLawmakers talk climate for Earth Day, Science March Poll: Sanders most popular senator in the US Senate Dems offer bill to restore internet privacy rules MORE (Vt.), Jon TesterJon TesterDems hunt for a win in Montana special election Tester raises M for reelection The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Mont.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinThis week: Congress returns to government shutdown fight Hotel industry details plans to fight Airbnb Congress needs a do-over on fraud-laden 'Immigrant Investor' program 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.