Vote Explanation for S. 764 — GMO Labeling Requirements Act

This week, I voted in support of a compromise bill that would require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods, commonly referred to as GMOs. This bill, which will now go to the President for his signature, passed the House with bipartisan support, 306–117.

Given the Republican-controlled Congress, I believe this bill was the best compromise we could strike for consumers who want to see GMOs labeled. That being said, this bill was far from perfect. Of particular concern for me was a provision that would allow corporations to choose between three methods of labeling foods: a symbol, text that indicates the food is bioengineered, or an electronic (QR) code readable by smartphone. I was concerned about this provision because labeling GMOs with a QR code could make obtaining information about food difficult for those without ready access to smartphones.

I believe that GMOs present an important opportunity to help solve food insecurity as levels of world hunger are projected to increase due to global warming, drought, and crop failures. Imagine fruit trees that require less water or sunlight to grow. Or, is there a way that a vector from spinach — which is high in iron — could be added to a staple crop to prevent anemia? I believe that we need to foster an environment that allows for these kinds of scientific advancements and discoveries to confront the challenges of the future.

However, consumers demand and deserve the right to know what is in their food. As USDA begins to implement this new federal standard for GMO labeling, I will continue to stand on the side of consumers and science.