Food companies propose voluntary GMO labels

Colorado State Representatives Beth McCann, D-Denver, left, and Sue Schafer , D-Wheat Ridge, listen during a hearing for a compromise bill that would give food producers the option of labeling food that doesn't include genetically modified ingredients, at the Capitol, in Denver, Thursday Jan. 30, 2014. As the 2014 legislative session kicks into full swing, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are prepping for debate Monday, Feb. 1, 2014 on a Republican attempt to repeal last year's gun purchase background check law. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Colorado State Representatives Beth McCann, D-Denver, left, and Sue Schafer , D-Wheat Ridge, listen during a hearing for a compromise bill that would give food producers the option of labeling food that doesn't include genetically modified ingredients, at the Capitol, in Denver, Thursday Jan. 30, 2014. As the 2014 legislative session kicks into full swing, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are prepping for debate Monday, Feb. 1, 2014 on a Republican attempt to repeal last year's gun purchase background check law. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Large food companies are trying to head off state-by-state efforts to enact mandatory labeling of genetically modified ingredients by proposing new voluntary labels nationwide.

The food industry and farm groups are pushing Congress to pass legislation that would require the Food and Drug Administration to create guidelines for the new labels, which food manufacturers could use.

A federal standard for voluntary labels would get food manufacturers off the hook if any individual states pass laws requiring mandatory labeling. Recent ballot initiatives in California and Washington failed. But several state legislatures are considering labeling requirements and opponents of engineered ingredients are aggressively pushing new state laws.

There’s very little science that says genetically engineered foods are unsafe. But opponents say too much is unknown about them.

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