Obama Signs Labeling Bill

Well, the President has signed it and it is finally law. The USDA has two years to write the rules that govern labeling. This law preempts the Vermont law that went into effect in July. Some are calling this the ‘Dark Labeling’ law due to the fact that it will allow producers to use a QR code instead of a plain English label. See this story about what the QR code might come to represent.

President Obama on Friday signed a bill that will require labeling of genetically modified ingredients for the first time. The legislation will cover most food packages.
President Obama on Friday signed a bill that will require labeling of genetically modified ingredients for the first time. The legislation will cover most food packages.

QR Code = “Contains GMOs”

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Addison Martin (addison-martin@uiowa.edu), in a piece for the Daily Iowan reports that Jen Angerer, the marketing manager for Iowas City’s New Pioneer Co-op is “disappointed” that the recent compromise labeling bill contains provisions for the use of QR codes. Angerer believes this may not be a positive thing for producers who wish to get around printing their ingredients in plain sight. The use of a QR code, according to her, will likely become the defacto symbol for “GMOs included”. Thus, someone without a smart phone (or the time to scan all those products), could simply avoid any product with a QR code on it, assuming it contains GMOs. Of course, all this hoopla is happening in the shadow of the fact that there is nothing factual to back up the fears that GMOs may be harmful. Read the original article here.

Mixed Reactions to Labeling Law

GMO-free Florida says they got 85,000 signatures in 13 days on a petition asking the President to veto the new labeling law that recently was passed by Congress. The problem, they say, is that a significant percentage (21%) of Americans do not own smart phones and have never used a QR code (or even know what one is). They would rather see a plain text label. Uncertainty about GMOs has consumers in some areas flocking to producers who pledge to provide GMO-free products. See the story by reporter Amanda Skrzypchak.

Australian Commission:
Lift GMO ban

Unknown quantity: Marketing benefits claimed by GM-free states are irrelevant given evidence that GM and non-GM crops can coexist, the report says.
Unknown quantity: Marketing benefits claimed by GM-free states are irrelevant given evidence that GM and non-GM crops can coexist, the report says.

According to NATALIE KOTSIOS, The Weekly Times, a new Productivity Commision report argues that all moratoriums on genetically modified crops should be scrapped as there in “no justification” for the bans. It seems that Australia is going through some of the same hard questions that the U.S. are regarding individual states making laws regarding GMOs vs. national laws. In Australia, territories can make their own laws regarding GMOs. The commission recommends taking away this power to foster a “nationally consistent system”. Read Natalie’s article.

Kosher Foods Go Missing in Vermont

Demand off for Kosher foods in Vermont. Supermarket (illustration)Hadas Parush/Flash 90)
Supermarket (illustration)Hadas Parush/Flash 90)

The Burlington Free Press reports that some Kosher foods have been pulled from shelves in Vermont supermarkets. Evidently, there is not enough demand in Vermont (there are less than 20,000 Jews in Vermont) to prompt producers to comply with the labeling law. Recently, the House passed a GMO labeling law that is expected to be signed into law by the President. Read the whole story here.

House Signs Labeling Bill

The GMO labeling bill has been passed onto the President’s office, who is expected to sign it into law. It has been a long discussion, the battle lasting the last seven years. Most believe that this is a good thing, despite the fact that it is seen by some as a blocker of sorts to state regulations that might have been more restrictive and not rely on the potential use of QR codes.

“What today really means is that we’ve left the legislative period of this battle after seven years and moved into the regulatory and marketplace phase of it, which was where it was always headed anyway,” said Gary Hirshberg, a founder of Just Label It, a coalition that advocates labeling.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Gary Hirshberg, right, at the Capitol in 2015, with Senator Richard Blumenthal, left, and Senator Pat Leahy. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
Gwyneth Paltrow and Gary Hirshberg, right, at the Capitol in 2015, with Senator Richard Blumenthal, left, and Senator Pat Leahy.
Credit
Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Read the entire story here.