GMO Food

Voluntary GMO Labeling Law Moves Forward in Congress

Preempts costly state mandatory labeling laws


Look Closer

The House Agriculture Committee reported out the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 which would create a national voluntary labeling scheme under the direction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in which producers who want to label their foods as containing ingredients derived from modern biotech crops, like, say, Arctic apples, can get certified. Conversely those who want to claim that their foods do not contain modified genes can be similarly certified. The Act would prohibit producers of certified and labeled non-GMO foods from suggesting "either expressly or by implication that covered products developed without the use of genetic engineering are safer or of higher quality than covered products produced from, containing, or consisting of a genetically engineered plant." Which is, of course, true. Certified GMO foods would also be prohibited from implying superior quality.   

The good news is that those seeking non-GMO certification and products will be responsible for paying for it, not the rest of us. In addition, the Act would preempt various state mandatory GMO labeling laws which would have imposed the costs for testing, tracking, and labeling of GMO foods on those of us who accept the scientific evidence for the safety and nutrition of GMO crops. I will report back as the bill proceeds (or not) through the legislative process.

For more background see my article, "The Top 5 Lies About Biotech Crops."

NEXT: Self-Driving Cars Could Destroy Fine-Based City Government. What's the Downside?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. This reads as one of the weirdest laws on the books.

    They can now legally label their products if they want… or not.

    It’s a good thing that’s cleared up!

    1. It puts conditions on what qualifies. You can’t put “non-GMO” if it has some, and you can’t put “GMO” if it doesn’t.

      1. So, its not really voluntary. It contains prohibitions, and, presumably, penalties.

        1. The law “allowing” voluntary labeling is, apparently, to block States from making mandatory labeling laws.

          the Act would preempt various state mandatory GMO labeling laws which would have imposed the costs for testing, tracking, and labeling of GMO foods on those of us who accept the scientific evidence for the safety and nutrition of GMO crops.

          All this for objects that are chemically identical to ‘unmodified’ objects.

  2. STD: Just like the organic, halal, and kosher folks do.

    1. did you laugh at all when you typed STD? Are there laws letting them say they can/can’t label Kosher? I thought the SC of NJ said that such laws were an adoption of religion by the state?

    2. I am not sure this is the same. The Orthodox Union doesn’t need Federal gov’t permission to certify foods as kosher. That is completely between the food company and the OU.

  3. It’s so funny that the Left labels ‘Climate Change’ skeptics as deniers and anti-science, but continues to cling to their irrational fear of GMOs and vaccines in spite of the overwhelming scientific evidence that says they’re safe.

    1. WHO just did a study the other day that shows that Monsanto’s GMO’s ‘probably’ contains a carinogen/causes cancer. Glyphosate. Apparently WHO came to this conclusion by reviewing a bunch of literature on the subject rather than any actual controlled study.

      When I hear people get on their high horse about GMO’s, I’ll just point to the fact that most of them on the left are perfectly fine with genetic modification of embryos (it helps the gays!) and apparently cutting up unborn babies to harvest their organs to feed to Nosferatu Hillary.

      1. The evidence in humans on the subject is, by the researcher’s own admission, ‘limited.’ But they throw that modifier in there and it’s good.

        Even if it is a carcinogen, is that any more dangerous than just eating a shit ton of junk food?

        1. Aspartame is a carcinogen too if taken in extreme quantities over an extended period. But then almost anything is.

        2. Humans have been eating genetically modified food for thousands of years. You think those big, purple eggplants occurred naturally? Apparently if it happens by accident it’s ok, but if it’s done in the lab (or by Monsanto) then it’s bad.

          1. You left out PROFIT!

        3. Or drinking a ton of diet coke?

        4. Or drinking a ton of diet coke?

      2. Did you see how the Left turned on Bill Nye when he came out in support of GMOs after reviewing the scientific data? All the accolades he received from his support of ‘Climate Change’ vanished at once. Bwah, ha, ha!!

        1. Oh, shit. Now I kind of feel sorry for him.

          1. I don’t. His unhinged denouncement of “deniers” was so caustic that I am happy to see him getting a dose of his own medicine. Had he been more professional in saying “You know, I have read the science on AGW and I have to agree with the scientists here”, I’d feel sorry for him now. Instead he became a bully preacher for the AGW movement and derided all people who disagreed. He deserves to see just how nasty this public relations campaign has become.

      3. The crops don’t contain Roundup (easier to type). They are resistant to it. And the type 2b (think that’s it) classification of the compound itself was a joke.

        1. So, its not the GMOs, its the Roundup residual traces that they are really talking about.

          I wonder, since many plants contain naturally occurring traces of stuff that is carcinogenic in high doses, what the marginal increase in cancer risk is from using Roundup.

    2. I’ve cornered a few of my more honest liberal friends on the same point. Usually, their argument comes down to “I don’t think it’s unsafe, but Monsanto is evil so you won’t see me caring if people come to the wrong conclusion about safety.”

  4. This corn approved by the Comics Code Authority.

    1. yeah, but only because the label cut out all the stuff about how the corn used to be addicted to heroin.

      1. And engaged in a strange “cos-play” relationship with Teosinte…

  5. Voluntary Law? That is just beautiful. It truly sums up the beauty and majesty of the government.

  6. Met a woman recently who does a sort of marketing function for a bio-tech pharm outfit. She lives in Berkeley and when I asked if the products were GM, she (somewhat apologetically) answered that they were.
    I mentioned there was no need to apologize to me, or for that matter anyone else, given the benefits of GM tech. She asked if I knew any off hand.
    Turns out the company is so oblivious to the resistance that they hadn’t even mentioned Golden Rice and she was amazed that a product which had done as much as that was still opposed by the likes of Green Peace.
    I suggested she also look up Borlaug; she’d never heard of him.

    1. Try this.

      1. 404 notice? Did Borlaug invent that too?

  7. I don’t see this law passing. Pro-GMO people will (correctly) see this as a way for the USDA to certify Non-GMO foods, thus causing a proliferation of the label and allowing others to do the marketing. You know facebook and mommy blogs will take care of telling people to always look for the non-gmo notice.

    On the other side, you have a raft of anti-GMO people who support this bill. However there are far more large corporations who have Non-GMO products who are happy to put the non-gmo label on those products according to whatever business-friendly trade group offers that certification and they want no government office making that designation even more stringent.

  8. “Voluntary law” is self-contradictory. Like “dry water”.

  9. Voluntary is not in the progressive dictionary

  10. Arctic apples apparently don’t brown. That’s just weird, man.

    Also, maybe I’m just weird but I never considered that a problem that needed to be solved… but to each their own.

  11. Certified GMO foods would also be prohibited from implying superior quality.

    Which also can be true. Arctic apples have a trait that makes them superior for some applications. Golden rice is certainly superior if your diet is low in vitamin A. Even leaving aside arguments about lower pesticide and herbicide use on the main GMO crops one could imagine all sorts of foods that would be of far superior quality to their non-GMO counterparts. Maybe soybeans with genes from fish to produce Omega-3 fatty acids. Or maybe bananas that have a 3 week shelf-life.

    I realize this is a like-for-like exchange to wipe away mandatory labeling laws, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t stupid to ban someone from promoting their product in a way that is 100% truthful.

  12. If it’s voluntary, why does it need to be a law or a government program at all?

    Producers who want a certification system can set one up on their own, without any government (tax-payer) cost.

  13. The good news is that those seeking non-GMO certification and products will be responsible for paying for it, not the rest of us.

    I don’t believe it. There’s never been a government program that didn’t find a way to cost the taxpayers more than it was worth.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.