"As recently as two weeks ago, the food industry was preparing to place labels on food products that contain genetically modified ingredients. But if a bi-partisan deal cobbled together last Thursday in the Senate Agriculture Committee gets signed into law, widespread labeling likely won't come to pass. Instead, food companies will have the option of disclosing GM ingredients on their products with QR codes that can be read by smartphones, accompanied by only the words "scan here for more food information"—without direct on-package mention of GMOs.
The fight centers on a Vermont law, due to go into effect on July 1, that would require labeling in that state. Rather than go through the trouble of segregating out and labeling products destined for a state with a population 626,000, many huge food companies had instead resigned themselves to labeling nationwide. In recent months Mars, General Mills, Kellogg, ConAgra and Campbell Soup all announced plans for labeling.
The looming prospect provoked a massive legislative effort, spearheaded by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, to pass a bill in Congress to nullify state labeling initiatives, full stop. Ever since that bill failed to gain traction in the Senate in March, Senate Ag Committee Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) began working to cobble together a compromise. Under their bill, products that contain GM ingredients will only have to include a QR code, which in-the-know consumers with smartphones can scan."