Agriculture Secretary Proposes GMO Labeling Solution: “Make an App for That.”

Tom-VilsackMore than ever before, people want to know what’s in their food. United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack wants to know why there isn’t an app for that.

Yesterday, Vilsack suggested to Congress the idea of developing a barcode-scanning application for smartphones that consumers could use to identify the ingredients in their food and whether or not the ingredients contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs), according to the Associated Press (AP).

“Industry could solve that issue in a heartbeat,” Vilsack said.

Vilsack’s comments come as part of the much larger ongoing discussions surrounding the labeling of GMOs. Studies have shown that 90 percent of Americans are in support of mandatory labeling of GMOs, and in April, 2014, Vermont became the first state in the nation to pass a GMO food labeling law, which goes into effect July 1, 2016.

The majority of food and beverage packaging regulation falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but Vilsack’s suggestion offers some potential common ground between consumers advocates pushing for the labeling of GMOs and food industry lobbyists who say such labeling would mislead consumers into questioning the safety of GMOs.

“A bar code seems the best way of doing it without picking sides,” said Vilsack, who’s been supportive of the use of genetically modified crops in food.

Scott Faber, head of the national Just Label It campaign disagrees. He told the AP that “Consumers shouldn’t have to have a high-tech smartphone and a 10-gigabyte data plan to know what’s in their food.”

A spokeswoman for the FDA told the AP that the Vilsack’s suggestion of developing such an app was “not currently under discussion.”