The US Senate passed a bill on 7 July to create a national standard on labelling food made with GMOs, just a week after Vermont state’s compulsory GM labelling law took effect on 1 July.

The bill would block states from issuing their own labelling laws and gives food manufacturers three options on how to inform consumers of the presence of GMOs in their products, said science.mag.org.

They can print their own labels; provide a label including a US Department of Agriculture symbol; or use a scannable code, such as a smartphone-readable Quick Response (QR) code.

Gary Hirshberg, chairman of the Just Label It campaign, had earlier said he was pleased the plan would create a national, mandatory labelling system but disappointed that consumers may have to rely on smartphones to learn about their food.

“This proposal falls short of what consumers rightly expect – a simple at-a-glance disclosure on the package,” he said in a NPR News report.

Critics also said firms could avoid labelling foods containing oils and sweeteners made from GM crops because the bill required labelling of foods containing genetic material modified by DNA techniques, and processing removed evidence of modifications, science.mag.org said.

Major food companies such as Campbell Soup Co., Kellogg’s and General Mills, had already begun labelling some of their products ahead of the Vermont law (see Biotech News, OFI, May 2016).

The Sentate bill will now go to the US House of Representatives for approval.