That’s a delicious-sounding loophole
A bill supposedly intended to close the “pepperoni pizza loophole” in Vermont’s new GMO labeling legislation will create more problems than it solves, according to consumer right’s experts.
Two years ago, Vermont passed legislation requiring companies to clearly label food products containing genetically-modified ingredients. The legislation was a response to many years of activism, with citizens demanding to know what’s in their food. Many large companies had already begun printing packaging with the required labels in anticipation of the new rules.
Compromise bill could prevent required GMO labeling
However, in a last-minute move to gut the new law, Senators Pat Roberts (KS) and Debbie Stabenow (MI) have proposed a “compromise” bill that would essentially undo Vermont’s new laws, and would prevent other states and cities from requiring companies to label GMO foods in the future.
Roberts and Stabenow, who together have received over $2 million in campaign donations from agribusiness companies, managed to weasel the bill to the Senate floor, bypassing the usual committee process. The bill has passed in the Senate and will likely pass in the House as well.
FDA does not approve
Upon reading the proposed bill, the Food and Drug Administration published a Technical Assistance Memo explaining that the bill would create a number of new loopholes, essentially leaving it up to the agribusiness companies to decide when and what to label. The FDA says that the new bill would “result in a somewhat narrow scope of coverage,” and would include massive loopholes for foods containing starches, oils, and meats.
Rather than a clear label stating that a product contains GMO ingredients, the new law would permit companies to label packages with a barcode or a phone number for customers to call to receive more information.
Another way to keep consumers in the dark
Director of food policy initiatives with Consumers Union, Jean Halloran, says that replacing clear labels with barcodes and phone numbers will make it difficult for consumers to get the information they are looking for.
She says that “this deal does not meet consumer needs” calling it “another way to allow companies to keep consumers in the dark – especially the one-third of American who don’t own a smartphone and those in rural areas without reliable broadband service.”