GMO labeling is officially mandatory, and QR codes could become the new standard on the grocery aisle.
On Friday, the White House announced that President Obama had signed the mandatory GMO labeling bill into law. Congress had passed the bill two weeks before, and the White House had already said it expected the president to sign the bill earlier in the month.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture now has two years to iron out the details of the law, including details surrounding the use of QR codes printed on product packaging as one option for disclosing GMO ingredients. A group of vocal consumers and public health advocates have pushed back against the use of QR codes, saying that electronic disclosure discriminates against demographics without smartphones to scan the codes while in stores.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association’s SmartLabel initiative, launched last December, represents one option for QR codes. Several manufacturers have already started using SmartLabel to disclose GMO ingredients and about 360 other product and company attributes. These companies demonstrated — before the law took effect — the role SmartLabel may play in the future of transparency in the food industry.