Vermont's first-in-the-nation GMO food-label law takes effect in 18 days, a deadline that is a central factor in closed-door discussions on federal legislation to supersede it. "Negotiations are ongoing and we're moving in the right direction," said an aide to Agriculture Committee chairman Pat Roberts.
Consumers will not be allowed to sue over companies' failure to label GMO foods until next summer, Vermont legislators decided, with the state's first-in-the-nation label law taking effect July 1.
With five major U.S. food companies saying they will label their products for GMO ingredients, Gary Ruskin, the co-director of U.S. Right to Know, says the food-industry coalition against labeling "is fracturing."
A third major food company, Mars Inc., says it will put GMO labels on its products nationwide and pointed to Vermont's first-in-the-nation labeling law as the impetus.
General Mills will join Campbell Soup in alerting consumers when its products contain GMOs, but the companies are on opposite sides of the GMO-labeling issue.
The Republican-controlled Senate votes today on pre-empting states from requiring special labels on foods made with genetically modified organisms in a roll call that could split along party lines.
The Senate faces "what may well be our last chance" to block states from requiring special labels on foods made with genetically modified foods, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, opening the way to a vote on Wednesday on a revised pre-emption bill intended to appeal to farm-state Democrats.
With Congress at an apparent impasse, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he is willing to sort out a mandatory GMO food-labeling system. "If Congress is unwilling to make these tough decisions ... then delegate the responsibility to the Department of Agriculture," Vilsack said at the National Farmers Union convention.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who tried to broker a compromise on GMO food labeling, says labeling must be mandatory nationwide to avoid the chaos of states and food processors deciding on their own what to label and how.
Foodmakers and one of the largest U.S. grocery chains launched the SmartLabel campaign that will allow customers to learn about products by scanning bar and QR codes or searching the Internet. The technology will include information by the end of 2017 on whether 20,000 food items contain GMOs, said the trade group Grocery Manufacturers Association.