Wait, Congress Just Banned GMO Labeling? Here’s What’s Going On.

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You might have noticed the latest political issue lighting up Facebook is Congress’ take on labeling food that uses genetically modified organisms. It’s being construed as a ban on states passing laws requiring GMO labeling, which it is. But there’s more to it, and it’s actually a law that makes sense.

There are states that require GMO labeling?

Well, right now, there’s just one, Vermont. America’s far-left legal testing lab passed that legislation after considerable debate and a few legal challenges, so, depending on who you ask, Big Food or a bunch of Congressmen decided to head mandatory labeling laws off at the pass.

That… seems sketchy.

Oh, it absolutely is sketchy! It doesn’t help you’ve got lobbyists saying things like “This is to tear down brands in the name of right to know.” Really, guy? That’s your pitch? “Won’t somebody think of the brands?” If we’re weighing things by their importance, the right to know what we’re putting in our bodies trumps brands.

That said, if GMO labeling were based on anything resembling science, this would be something to be worried about. But it isn’t. The anti-GMO panic largely consists of “bourgeoisie bohemians” angry they have to eat the same food as poor people. It helps that the bill actually makes some important and substantial changes to how GMOs are seen by the government, which the Facebook rants are leaving out.

What changes?

Quite a few things, all of them actually good and useful. It sets up a voluntary federal standard for GMO labeling, something the government refused to do before. It creates a federal standard for GMO-free labeling, and if you want to make that claim, you have to apply and be scrutinized by the Department of Agriculture; organic foods are already cleared because they can’t have GMOs in them in the first place. Most importantly, GMOs are now required to be reviewed by the FDA before putting them on the market. Before, that was a voluntary process.

In other words, it inverts what anti-GMO activists wanted. But they still get the labeling, and it puts GMOs squarely under the review of actual food scientists, instead of an angry mob.

Of course, this still needs to get through the legislative process; it could die in the Senate, or Obama could veto it. But, overall, it’s a measured, intelligent response that limits bureaucracy, clearly labels foods for those concerned, and puts more oversight on an issue many Americans are concerned about.


“GMO-free,” “organic,” all of these labels are literally nothing more than marketing terms. There’s never been any credible evidence organic foods are healthier for you. And frankly, once they go on a truck they stop being “better for the environment.” If people want access to them and to eat them, by all means, they should have that access.

But food science shouldn’t be about indulging pretensions. Most people who oppose GMOs don’t even know what the acronym stands for. So, yeah, if this takes the decision out of the hands of people who don’t know what they’re talking about, it’s a good thing for all of us.