The most significant activity regarding food and beverage labeling occurred in the U.S. House of Representatives, with the House passing H.R. 1599, by a 275 to 150 margin. As highlighted in the state report, the legislation would not prevent companies from voluntarily labeling their food products as GMO-free, but would prohibit companies from being required to label that their food products contain GMOs. The legislation is now in the Senate Agriculture Committee, awaiting further debate and consideration.
Passage of this bill in the Senate will be much more difficult. Opponents of the legislation are making two cases against it. First, that the consumer needs to know if GMOs are in their food products, and that sates should be free to establish their own requirements with respect to food labeling laws. Consumer rights advocacy groups, as well as business-based coalitions have also stepped up ad and PR campaigns promoting their positions on the issue.
The Senate Agriculture Committee is expected to hold hearings on the legislation this fall. In addition, 15 states are currently considering some form of GMO labeling for food. We anticipate that of the state legislatures scheduled to reconvene this fall, many will continue to consider bills pertaining to GMOs.