House Republicans propose voluntary non-GMO food label

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Inspired by the popular “USDA organic” label, House Republicans are proposing a new government certification for foods free of genetically modified ingredients.

The idea is part of an attempt to block mandatory labeling of foods that include genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The certification would be voluntary, says Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., who is including the idea in legislation he is introducing Wednesday.

Pompeo says a government-certified label would allow companies that want to advertise their foods as GMO-free to do so, but it would not be mandatory for others. The food industry, which backs Pompeo’s bill, has strongly opposed individual state efforts to require labeling, saying labels would be misleading because GMOs are safe. The bill would also override any state laws that require the labeling.

Under the legislation, the Agriculture Department would oversee the certification, as it does with organics. But while organic foods must be USDA-certified to carry any organic label on a package, the department’s non-GMO certification would not be required for every food that bills itself as free of genetically modified ingredients. The idea is that foods the department certifies as free of GMOs would have a special government label that companies could use to market their foods. User fees would pay for the program.

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The bill also steps up FDA review of genetically modified foods. Currently, food companies must comply with FDA guidance if they want to claim that foods are free of engineered ingredients.

Read full, original article: Bill would create organic-type labels for nonmodified foods

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