The Future of GMO Labeling: How a New Federal Labeling Scheme will Alter Public Disclosure

Maria DeGiovanni

Genetic modification is a process used for a myriad of purposes, including the cultivation of plant species that ultimately find their way into countless food products across the world.1 As the usage of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has grown, so has the public debate surrounding their presence in food, and, more specifically, their undisclosed presence in food. Until recently, the United States maintained next to no regulation on the labeling of GMO products.2 After many state legislatures began proposing and passing GMO-labeling laws, Congress passed one of its own.3 This Note will discuss the implications of the federal labeling scheme, and posits that although the scheme may disappoint grassroots anti- GMO interests, the scheme will ultimately have the effect of providing consumers with the “right to know” what is in their food, and will reduce the presence of genetically modified (GM) foods in the marketplace. Part I provides background on GMOs and explains the regulatory role of the FDA. Part II discusses GMO-labeling legislation passed by certain states, a law recently passed by Congress, and the legal challenges faced by lawmakers when passing this type of legislation. Part III argues that the federal regulatory scheme is not a death knell for consumer autonomy, and that it will do little to weaken the fight against GMOs.