Omnibus spending package does not contain 11th hour GMO labeling provision

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Omnibus does not contain 11th hour GMO labeling provision

Related tags Mandatory gmo labeling Trans fat Hydrogenation

A $1.1 trillion omnibus spending package released late last night does not contain a much-anticipated policy rider on federal GMO labeling that would pre-empt state GMO-labeling laws, although it does seek to block the sale of genetically engineered salmon until the FDA publishes labeling guidelines.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) had hoped that a last-minute provision would be added to the omnibus bill​ that would support a federal voluntary GMO labeling scheme along the lines of H.R. 1599​ (The Safe and Affordable Food Act).

HR1599 - which anti-GMO activists have dubbed the DARK Act ('Denying Americans the Right-to-Know') – would pre-empt state laws that mandate GMO labeling (such as Act 120 in Vermont) and set up a federal voluntary 'non-GMO' labeling system run by the Agricultural Marketing Service.

In a statement issued this morning, the GMA said the failure to secure the 11th​ hour provision was “unfortunate​” given that there “is bipartisan agreement that a 50-state patchwork of laws is disastrous for farmers, food companies and consumers”.

GMA president Pam Bailey said she was nevertheless confident progress would be made in January: “Given there is so much common ground, we welcome Secretary Vilsack’s willingness to bring parties together in January to forge a compromise that Congress could pass as soon as possible​.”

However, anti-GMO activist groups, who support mandatory GMO labeling, welcomed the news, with the Center for Food Safety noting it was “very pleased that Congress has apparently decided not to undermine Americans’ right to know about the food the purchase and feed their families”.

"We thank Congressional leaders for wisely rejecting Big Food’s sneak attack on GMO labeling via a rider on this must-pass spending bill."Friends of the Earth

According to the GMA, food manufacturers are stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to GMO labeling, as time is running out to strike a federal deal before mandatory GMO labeling legislation comes into effect in Vermont in July 2016.

Click HERE​ to read the omnibus bill. The section on GE salmon is on page 106. There is also some wording on p102 reiterating that partially hydrogenated oils (which create trans fats) are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) until June 18, 2018, presumably in a bid to deter lawsuits. (Read more about this issue here​.)

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