Merkley shoots for mandatory GMO labeling

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) will introduce a bill today that would require food makers to disclose the presence of GMO ingredients on Nutrition Facts labels.

The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), comes right after the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday approved Chairman Pat Roberts’ bill to preempt state labeling laws. Merkley’s alternative bill would give manufacturers four labeling options, ranging from using a parenthesis following the relevant ingredient to using a symbol developed by the FDA in consultation with food manufacturers. None of the options would require front panel disclosures or warning statements intending to disparage genetically engineered ingredients, according to Martina McLennan, a spokeswoman for Merkley.

The Oregon Democrat, who serves as ranking member of the Appropriations agriculture subcommittee, argues that both industry and consumers can win in the debate. “There is a way to give consumers the information they are asking for without placing unfair or conflicting requirements on food producers. This legislation provides the common-sense pathway forward,” he said in a statement. Pros can read the bill here.