GMO Labeling Bill Takes Effect in 2017

By Jolyn Johnston-Myers
October 25, 2016

The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law, commonly known as the GMO Labeling Bill, was passed this summer and takes effect at the beginning of 2017. This means all food manufacturers will be required to reveal the presence of genetically modified ingredients on the packaging.

Due to the controversy that surrounds GMO use, the bipartisan-backed legislation had its share of supporters and detractors. However, in the end, Kansas State University Research and Extension nutrition specialist Sandy Procter says consumers will benefit from the new  law.

“This label, whatever it ends up looking like, is going to allow people to make the decision whether GMOs are where they want to go for their diet and their family’s diet, or if is something they prefer not to go toward,” Proctor said. “But, they will have that opportunity to know and make that decision, and that’s really the win for consumers.”

While the final imagery or wording for the labels is still undecided, consumers can expect to see an on-package symbol or written statement, along with an electronic symbol, such as a QR code. That code, with the help of a smartphone, will redirect consumers to a site containing GMO information. For Procter, the new law is also an opportunity for health educators and Extension agents to educate consumers about GMOs and food labels.

“As nutrition educators, we know that we may need to adapt and rethink some of our teaching skills and even maybe some of our ability to talk about products and how we help consumers understand it,” she said. “But the exciting part is that it is more information for consumers to help them choose the best diet possible for themselves.”

The USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service, which is in charge of implementing the new law, will be developing the final plans for how the labels will look when they hit store shelves at the beginning of next year.