By Lydia Wheeler - 03/02/16 04:51 PM EST
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.
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.