As states continue to discuss their own labeling laws governing foods made with genetically modified ingredients, a national discussion is beginning to really heat up, folding lawmakers, the Food and Drug Administration and interest groups into the mix.
Currently, the FDA does not require labels on GM foods. But pro-GMO labeling groups say they should, citing a need for consumers to be aware of what's in their food.
Other groups are advocating for a voluntary national GM labeling effort, one that would give the FDA power over labeling by trumping "patchwork" state laws – if they determine GMOs pose a health, safety or nutrition issue.
A voluntary plan is actually supported by the FDA, Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said last week. While the presence of GMOs in food does not constitute a "material change" and therefore does not require a label, she said GMO labeling is clearly on the minds of Americans and a voluntary approach should allow consumers to select products right for them.
Hamburg also said FDA hopes to finalize soon a proposed guidance with respect to plant-based genetically modified foods, Feedstuffs reported.
According to various reports, legislators are on the brink of getting involved. The national labeling group, Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, is expected to partner with Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas within the next two weeks to launch a bill that would establish the voluntary GMO labeling law, The Hill reported Wednesday.
A petition to block Pompeo's GMO bill is already being circulated by the Organic Consumers Association.
For more, read up on this developing issue and its background with 6 need-to-read GMO labeling stories and commentary:
1. Top FDA official reaffirms support for voluntary GMO labeling. Feedstuffs, 3/28
2. Pompeo reportedly plans to launch GMO labeling bill. The Hill, 4/1
3. GM labeling dilemma extends far into foodservice. NYULocal, 3/27
4. Organic labels touch sales, prices and production. NPR, 2/28
5. Commentary: Anti-GMOers Aim To Kill Food Abundance With GMO Labeling Farm Progress
6. Commentary: Voluntary vs. Mandatory GMO Labeling: Apples and Oranges Center for Food Safety