The Senate on Thursday approved a measure that would require food companies to disclose GMOs — but without necessarily using a GMO label on packaging. Companies would have several disclosure options, including using a QR code on packaging that customers could then scan with a smartphone to learn more. -NPR
GMO labeling that does not require actual words? Nicely done, U.S. Senate, for making it clear once again that Big Food and Big Chemical are the ones actually in charge.
After months of bargaining and backroom arguments, the Senate has voted in favor of a new national standard for labeling food that contains ingredients from genetically modified crops.
The essence of the deal: Companies will have to disclose their GMO ingredients, but they won’t have to put that information right on the label.
Many food companies are fiercely opposed to such GMO labels because they believe consumers will perceive them — incorrectly — as a warning that those products are nutritionally inferior or even unsafe to eat.
If this bill becomes law, companies will be allowed instead to disclose their GMO ingredients through a QR code on the package. That’s the kind of square bar code that you’ve seen on airline boarding passes. Consumers could scan that code with their smartphones to retrieve the information. Small companies could just print a phone number or a Web address where consumers could find out whether a particular product contains GMOs.
New York Times
The biggest problem with the Senate bill is that — instead of requiring a simple label, as the Vermont law does — it would allow food companies to put the information in electronic codes that consumers would have to scan with smartphones or at scanners installed by grocery stores. The only reason to do this would be to make the information less accessible to the public.
Another problem is that the bill might not cover some kinds of genetic engineering. The Food and Drug Administration warned that the bill “would result in a somewhat narrow scope of coverage” — for example, food that includes oil made from genetically engineered soybeans might not need to be labeled.