The U.S. Senate has passed, by a vote of 63 to 30, a bill that would create a national standard for labeling food made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Yesterday’s vote marks a win for food companies, farm groups, and biotech firms, which have been pushing the federal government to set a single national standard in hopes of heading off a patchwork of state labeling laws, such as one that went into effect in Vermont on 1 July. But GMO critics say the bill fails to adequately protect consumers who want to know if a product contains GM ingredients.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D–VT) spoke against the bill during yesterday’s debate, describing it as “a farce of a proposal.” He argued that “with the swift speed with which the proponents of this bill have moved, with no committee process, no debate or amendment process, we will not be able to ensure the language in this bill does exactly what they say that it does. Just take their word for it.”
But Senator Joe Donnelly (D–IN), who supported the bill, said it was a reasonable measure. “It will provide fair and objective information without stigmatizing foods that are completely safe,” he said on the Senate floor. “After months of discussion, we have found a sensible proposal that will bring the right information into our homes and to grocery stores in a responsible way.”