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HR-1599 Defeated: What's Next for GMO Labeling?

Written By: A. Wilt

April 2016

Last summer, the House of Representatives passed HR-1599, a controversial bill that would have nullified state laws requiring labeling of foods with GMOs. Nicknamed the "Deny Americans Right to Know," or DARK Act by detractors, the Act went against what most Americans wanted, which was to have clear labeling of their foods. Supporters of the law argued that proceeding with such labeling perpetuated the belief that GMO foods are harmful, when according to the Food and Drug Administration, they are not. The passage of the Act in the House was seen as a victory for large agricultural companies, and a loss for those in the anti-GMO camp.

Following that passage, the bill went on to the Senate, as S. 2609. In order to pass, S. 2609 required 60% Senate support.

HR-1599 Defeated: What's Next for GMO Labeling?

On March 16, 2016, the Senate appeared to have heard the anti-GMO sentiments of the public, and did not pass the bill. That defeat is a battle setback for agricultural companies who depend on GMOS to increase their crops.

This isn't the final battle in this ongoing controversy. As a means of shutting down S. 2609, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore), introduced S. 2621, The Biotechnology Food Labeling Uniformity Act, which would permit labeling of genetically modified or genetically engineered food ingredients, but would be in smaller print along with the ingredients on the back of the package.

As expected, the bill has been lauded by consumer groups, with Consumer's Union stating:

"This is what real disclosure looks like. This bill finds a way to set a national standard and avoid a patchwork of state labeling laws while still giving consumers the information they want and deserve about what's in their food."

Also expected, the bill has already been criticized by pro GMO groups, with the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food responding: 

"This is another mandatory labeling solution in search of a non-existent problem. Mandatory on package labeling is reserved for important health and safety information or to distinguish material difference in products; this doesn't apply to biotech labeling because the overwhelming scientific consensus shows that GMOs are completely safe.

This debate doesn't seem to be ending soon. Barring a passage of a federal labeling standard, Vermont becomes the first state in the nation with state laws regarding GMO labeling, which is set to take place July1, 2016.

HR-1599 Defeated: What's Next for GMO Labeling?

CFSAF Response to Senator Merkley's Mandatory Labeling Bill. (2016, March 3). Retrieved from Coalition for Safe Affordable Food.
Consumers Union on Merkley GMO Bill: This is What Real Disclosure Looks Like. (2016, March 2). Retrieved from ConsumersUnion.
S. 2609: An original bill to amend the agricultrual Marketing Act of 1946 to require the Secretary of Agriculter to establish a national voluntary labeling...standard for bioengineered foods, and for other puposes. (2016, March 1). Retrieved from
S. 2621: To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to genetically engineered food transparency and uniformity. (2016, March 2). Retrieved from United States Government Publishing Office:


Other Articles of Interest:

HR-1599: Safe and Accurate or Keeping You in the D.A.R.K.?

Johnson and Johnson Ordered to Pay Damages for Wrongful Death

Food Transparency: What's All the Hoo-Ha About?

FDA Approved—No Label Required—GMO Fish


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