President Obama signed into law July 29 legislation (S. 764) establishing the first mandatory federal label for food products containing genetically modified organisms. Action on the measure was accelerated in light of the July 1 effective date of a Vermont GMO labeling law and the potential for proliferation of additional and varying state-level standards.

S. 764 prohibits states or other entities from mandating labels of food or seed that is genetically engineered. Instead, the Department of Agriculture must establish within two years through rulemaking a uniform national disclosure standard for human food that is or may be bioengineered. This standard will include several options for compliance, including text on package, a symbol, or a link to a website (QR code or similar technology). Foods in which meat, poultry and egg products are the main ingredient will be exempted, as will very small manufacturers and restaurants. In addition, USDA is prohibited from considering any food product derived from an animal to be bioengineered solely because the animal may have eaten bioengineered feed.

Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg’s FDA Regulatory and Life Sciences Practice can assist with GMO labeling compliance and provide strategic advice and counsel on related GMO, organic and natural labeling issues. For more information, please contact Shelly Garg at (305) 894-1043.

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