Obama Signs Controversial Bill Requiring Labeling GMO Foods into Law

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On Friday, Obama signed a bill into law requiring foods to have a label telling consumers if they contain GMOs. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 is the first U.S. law requiring GMOs to be labeled.

The bill was passed by congress two weeks ago, reports The Associated Press. Foods containing GMOs will be required to have a label, an undetermined logo for GMOs, a phone number or a QR code. The law gives The Agriculture Department two years to write the official rules for labeling GMOs.

Vermont passed a law that went into effect on July 1 requiring labeling for GMOs. The new federal law will override the state’s law, however. Supporters, including the food industry, argue that creating a nation-wide law instead of letting individual states decide the laws will provide more uniformity.

However, some—including many who initially supported labeling GMOs, Vermont representative Peter Welch, senators Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy—oppose the law for being too lax. The federal law gives companies the option to choose between three options for labeling, whereas Vermont requires companies to label their GMO products with “produced with genetic engineering.” In addition to having fewer penalties for companies that don’t follow the law and not give the federal government to recall products without the label, opponents argue that there are too many loopholes in the new law. The Food and Drug Administration said that the definition of “bioengineering” given in the bill is too narrow and does not include all genetically modified foods.

According to the Associated Press, 75 to 80 percent of foods have genetically modified ingredients, mostly made from corn or soy. The FDA has said that GMOs are safe to eat, but supporters of labeling argue that not enough is known about GMOs and their long-term effects and consumers should know what is in their food. Sixty-four other countries already have laws requiring foods containing GMOs to be labeled.