In November, the Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of genetically modified salmon without requiring it to be labeled. Now, it turns out that GMO salmon might need to be labeled after all. A measure was attached to the federal omnibus spending bill that will keep GMO salmon out of stores until the FDA develops a labeling program.

And that’s not all that’s happening on the GMO front. A rider on this same bill that would have blocked all mandatory state GMO labeling laws—like the one passed in Vermont set to go into effect July 1, 2016—was not included, despite a big push by the food industry. An analysis done by the Environmental Working Group shows that the food industry, biotech companies, and trade groups collectively spent $75.5 million to thwart GMO labeling efforts through September of this year. If spending continues at the same rate, EWG estimates that that number will exceed more than $100 million by the end of 2015. 

This isn’t the final word on whether we'll see mandatory GMO labeling. The Senate Agriculture Committee has indicated that it will take up the issue again in January, a move the Department of Agriculture supports.

“We expect the food and biotech industries to renew their fight to block state laws from going into effect,” says Jean Halloran, director of food policy at Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports.

Indeed, in a statement issued by the Grocery Manufacturers Association after it was announced that the spending bill would not block state GMO laws, Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO said: “It is unfortunate that Congress has failed to take action this year to stop a patchwork of costly and misleading state labeling mandates, an issue of tremendous importance to consumers, farmers, food and beverage companies... We welcome [USDA] Secretary Vilsack’s willingness to bring parties together in January to forge a compromise that Congress could pass as soon as possible.”

Surveys show that more than 90 percent of consumers want food labels to tell them whether a product contains GMO ingredients. In a campaign organized by Consumers Union this fall, more than 100,000 consumers contacted their senators to urge them not to include the anti-GMO rider in the budget bill.

“We need to keep up the pressure on Congress,” says Halloran. “Consumers Union will keep pushing for consumers’ right to know what’s in their food, through a meaningful, easy-to-understand, on-package, mandatory label.”

If you agree, we encourage you to contact your senators.