Health Highlights: July 15, 2016

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

U.S. Congress Passes Bill on GMO Food Labeling

A new bill passed Thursday by Congress means consumers may soon only need to read a food product’s label to determine if it contains genetically modified (GMO) ingredients.

The bill, which President Barack Obama has said he will sign, requires most food packaging to carry text, symbols or electronic code readable by smartphones that lets shoppers know whether the food includes any GMO ingredient.

The bill passed on a 306-117 vote in the House on Thursday, and received Senate approval last week.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture now has two years to write the new labeling rules, the Associated Press reported.

Some legislators who’d been pushing for the bill say it is too weak, allowing food manufacturers electronic labeling options that could obscure the presence of GMOs.

“If there is an acknowledgement about the right of a consumer to have access to information, why not give them the information in plain and simple English?” Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said during the House debate.

The food industry, on the other hand, has fought GMO labeling legislation, maintaining that GMO products are safe but labels might infer that they are not.

According to the AP, most of the GMO crops grown in the United States are corn and soybeans that are consumed by livestock or turned into ingredients such as cornstarch, soybean oil or high-fructose corn syrup. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has maintained that GMO foods are safe to eat.

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