Consumers wish to know whether the food they purchase and consume is a genetically engineered food. Concerns include the potential transfer of allergens into food and other health risks, potential environmental risks associated with the genetic engineering of crops, and religiously and ethically based dietary restrictions. Consumers have a right to know whether the food they purchase contains or was produced with genetically engineered material. There is also strong scientific rationale for mandatory labeling. It provides an opportunity for continual postmarket monitoring, allowing for the study of long term health impacts. Adoption and implementation of mandatory labeling requirements for genetically engineered food produced in the United States would facilitate international trade. It would allow American farmers and companies to export and appropriately market their products (both genetically engineered and non-genetically engineered) to foreign customers.
This bill acknowledges consumers have a right to know what genetically engineered foods they are eating:
- Requires food companies to label all foods that contain or are produced with genetically engineered material.
- Requires the FDA to periodically test products to ensure compliance (a threshold of 1% is established for accidental contamination).
- Voluntary, non-GE food labels are authorized.
- A legal framework is established to ensure the accuracy of labeling without creating significant economic hardship on the food production system.