A new federal law will require food makers to disclose when foods contain genetically modified ingredients.
The law, which was recently signed by President Obama, will require such food products to be labeled with text, a symbol, or an electronic code readable by smartphone indicating the presence of GMOs. Small businesses will also have the option to label food products with a telephone number or Internet website directing customers to additional information.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has two years to draft regulations concerning which products require such disclosure, and additional details concerning what food makers must do to comply. After the regulations are finalized, food makers will have at least another year before the law takes effect.
Law preempts state and local GMO labeling laws.
The federal law preempts a similar Vermont law, Act 120, that took effect in July, as well as any other state or local GMO disclosure laws. The Vermont Attorney General’s office has announced it will suspend enforcement of Act 120.
Critics of the federal law, including Vermont’s congressional delegation, argued that it falls short compared with Vermont’s tougher labeling law requiring all foods with GMO ingredients to be labeled “produced with genetic engineering.”
Supporters of the federal law, including many in the food industry, say it avoids a state-by-state patchwork of laws in favor of a national disclosure solution.
Law will be federally enforced, but may fuel private lawsuits.
The law will be administered and enforced by the federal government, through the USDA.