Senate reaches bipartisan deal on federal GM labeling standard.

  • As the food industry is well aware, many eyes have been on Congress to determine whether federal legislation addressing the labeling of genetically modified (GM) foods could be enacted before the July 1 effective date of Vermont’s GM labeling requirements.
  • On June 23, the Senate Agriculture Committee reached a bipartisan deal that would establish a national disclosure standard and preempt conflicting state laws (including Vermont’s).  If enacted, the bill would amend the Agricultural Marketing Act to require the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish and administer a national GM disclosure standard.  The bill prescribes exemptions from disclosure for:  (1) products derived from animals that consume GM feed; (2) food sold by restaurants and similar retail food establishments; and (3) very small food manufacturers.  USDA also will have to determine the amount of GM material that may be present for the food to be considered a GM food and establish a process by which one can request a determination as to whether a food is GM.  The GM disclosure may take the form of text, symbols, or electronic/digital links, with the disclosure option to be selected by the food manufacturer.
  • Although an accord finally appears to have been reached, this is not yet a “done deal.”  Further, because the House of Representatives is on recess until July 5, the agreement cannot possibly become law before Vermont’s law takes effect.  We will stay tuned for developments on this front and will report in more detail on the implications of a national GM labeling standard if and when the law is enacted.