US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asked Congress to pass mandatory nationwide GMO labeling legislation at the Organic Trade Association’s Policy Conference Wednesday. Such a policy would normalize individual state labeling laws for foods made with genetically modified ingredients, such as the one going into effect in July in Vermont.
“We need to establish, in my view, a mandatory system,” Secretary Vilsack said, according to Food Navigator. “One that is flexible and has options and one that is timely.”
This nationwide policy would create a normalized, cohesive system that would encompass both the intentions of individual state laws, which will likely appear in other states following the success of Vermont’s law, as well as individual decisions from companies such as The Campbell Soup Co. with regards to voluntary GMO labeling.
“The problem with all of that is there is no consistency,” Vilsack said. “There is no predictability. There is no stability and the consumer can be easily confused because everybody might do it slightly differently if there is no standard.”
Following the failure of the DARK Act, a move towards mandatory, nationwide GMO labeling legislation seems appropriate. Seventy-five percent of Americans support GMO labeling legislation, and 78 percent believe that such legislation should be established on a federal rather than state level, according to a recent Harris Poll.
Fifty-eight percent of the people polled believe that the issue with GMOs is not necessarily an inherent danger, but rather, how little we know about them. A GMO labeling law would shed some light on GMOs and afford individuals the chance to make informed decisions.
“I hope that agriculture provides an example to the rest of the country that you can have differences of opinion, but it doesn’t prevent you from finding solutions and answers,” Vilsack said. “I think agriculture can provide an example to the rest of the country, and I am going to try, in the remaining months that I have in this job, to facilitate that.”
GMO labeling is already mandatory in 64 countries around the world, including Japan, Australia, China, and 28 nations in the European Union. GMO crops have been banned in upwards of 20 countries, including France, Germany, and Hungary.