The FDA might not be too excited about this, but we're sure Mario Batali is. Federal legistlation introduced Wednesday might change the tide in the GMO food labeling debate and require labeling for all genetically engineered foods.
Th bill, known as The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, was introducted by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR). This would require any food with GMO ingredients to be labeled accordingly. If this bill gets signed into law, the U.S. would join 64 other countries that already require genetically modified food labeling.
In the past, GMO labeling laws have attempted to make it into state lawbooks, most notably in California where Prop 37 was turned down by a 3 percent margin last November. Currently, according to the Organic Consumers Association, there are 25 states working on GMO labeling laws.
Chefs like Mario Batali, Alice Waters, and Dan Barber have all come out in favor of GMO laws, as they all also came out in favor of California's Prop 37 last year. "[Chefs] can’t prepare the best food we know how when information about the ingredients we purchase is hidden from us with labels that are missing basic facts. This includes foods that are genetically engineered or contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs)," Waters wrote in an open letter last year.
The Center for Food Safety has applauded the legislation, with executive director Andrew Kimbrell saying in a statement, "Americans have the right to know about the foods they are purchasing... now is the time for FDA to reverse its two-decade old policiy decision against labeling." According to an MSNBC poll in 2011, 96 percent of more than 45,000 voters surveyed believed GMO foods should be labeled.
In fact, many foods (like soy- and corn-based products) are genetically engineered, unbeknownst to consumers. "All over this country people are becoming more conscious about the foods they are eating and the foods they are serving to their kids," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), one of the co-sponsors of the bill, said in a press release. "This is certainly true for genetically engineered foods. I believe that when a mother goes to the store and buys food for her child she has the right to know what she is feeding her child."
Whole Foods, in the meantime, has already vowed to label all GMO foods by 2018, putting them ahead of the curve.