For months, Congress has been trying to figure out what to do about labels for genetically modified foods. States have been debating labeling for years. But the issue really gained urgency on July 1, when Vermont became the first state in the country to require GMO labels in grocery stores.
Many food manufacturers despised Vermont’s law; they’ve been pulling their products from the state’s shelves and lobbying Congress to block the law. Their biggest complaint was that if states enacted their own GMO labeling laws, it’d create an unworkable "patchwork" of local requirements.
The Senate bill would require all food manufacturers to disclose any GM ingredients in their products. But there’s a twist: Companies could place a disclosure directly on the package. Or, if they think those labels too inflammatory, they could instead offer a digital QR code on the package that consumers would have to scan with their smartphones to get ingredient information (something few people tend to do).
The bill now needs approval from the House, where Republicans have already voted to block Vermont's law but favored a purely voluntary labeling standard. The two chambers will need to hash out their differences.