Controversial GMO Labeling Bill Signed Into Law

Photographed by Anjali Pinto.
On Friday, President Obama signed a bill into law that will require most food companies to label products containing genetically modified organisms (a.k.a. GMOs) with an electronic code, text label, or symbol, the Associated Press reports.

As the first of its kind, the law is controversial among people on both sides of the GMO debate.

The new federal law will essentially nullify a GMO labeling law that went into effect in Vermont last month; it would have required genetically modified foods to display a label reading, "produced with genetic engineering" instead of giving companies options as to how to label. Many proponents of GMO labeling — including Vermont's Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Patrick Leahy, and Rep. Peter Welch — argue that the federal law is not strict enough in comparison.

Meanwhile, others argue there's no reason to label at all. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration maintains that genetically-modified ingredients are totally safe for us to eat, and earlier this year, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine released the largest safety review of GM foods yet that concluded these foods pose no greater health risk than their conventionally grown counterparts. According to the food industry, these ingredients are used in approximately 75 to 80% of foods, the AP reports.

The Agriculture Department now has two years to write the final rules and implement the law.

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