Dems push clearer GMO labeling

Dems push clearer GMO labeling


By:  Lydia Wheeler

Senate Democrats are pushing the Agriculture Department to create a labeling standard for products made with genetically modified organisms (GMO) that is consumer-friendly.

Congress passed a law in July ordering the agency to create a national labeling standard within two years.

The law allows food producers to use QR codes that can be scanned with smartphone. In a letter Tuesday led by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), nine Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) asked Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to consider the obstacles Americans could face in gaining that information electronically.

The senators noted that a recent study required by the law found around 74 million Americans did not own a smartphone in 2016. 

“Smartphone ownership is even lower among older and rural Americans, and many rural communities lack the broadband infrastructure that is necessary for QR codes to work,” they wrote.

The senators recommended QR codes and other electronic disclosure methods not be used until broadband internet access is universal.

They also recommended it be obvious that the QR code, phone number or other disclosure is leading the consumer to information on genetically modified ingredients and that grocery stores be required to provide QR code scanners in every aisle.