- The Senate's cloture vote Wednesday on a revised version of legislation for voluntary GMO labeling has failed. The bill was originally proposed by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) last month. It failed to achieve the necessary 60 votes, with 49 voting yes and 48 voting no.
That's it, the cloture vote on @SenPatRoberts GMO bill just failed.— Jenny Hopkinson (@JennyHops) March 16, 2016
- Per the revised bill, voluntary GMO labeling would override states' ability to impose their own mandatory labeling laws, such as Vermont's law going into effect in July. However, newly added language states the food industry would have two years to enroll 70% of products in the Grocery Manufacturers Association's SmartLabel program or else the federal government could create a mandatory GMO labeling policy.
- Many legislators and experts remained unconvinced that the bill, even in its revised state, would have the Democratic support it needed to pass. Roberts told reporters that the bill has "a sound science argument on our side," reports Politico.
The House was able to pass a voluntary GMO labeling bill last year without the revised language for conditional mandatory labeling. If it did pass, the food industry would have had to provide GMO and other information via SmartLabel or else contend with mandatory labeling in the near future.
Now, another GMO labeling bill is waiting in committee. This alternative bill calls for mandatory GMO labeling but offers companies four options for how to situate the label, none of which require the information to be on the front of the packaging. Supporters argue that companies already change labels all the time as they make ingredient changes.
Companies have mixed feelings regarding GMO labeling, according to The New York Times. General Mills doesn't support labeling, but allows brands like Annie's to speak out against it. Nestle and PepsiCo have spent large amounts of money lobbying against GMO labeling, but both companies have started using non-GMO labels on their products, such as PepsiCo's Tropicana announcement in December. Campbell Soup committed to labeling GMO ingredients in its products earlier this year, and supports the four-option mandatory labeling bill.