President Barack Obama signed into law a bill last week that for the first time will require manufacturers to use labels declaring if their products contain ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms (GMO).

The legislation passed in both the House and Senate earlier in July and compels manufacturers to reveal if a product contains genetically modified ingredients through the use of a text label, a symbol or electronic code readable by a smart phone such as a QR code.

Many in the food industry supported mandatory labeling at the federal level in order to avoid a patchwork of state-by-state laws. USDA will have two years to write the rules.

“This legislation will open a new era for transparency in ingredient information for consumers, by requiring disclosure of genetically engineered ingredients for families in every state across the nation. Its consistent national standard is far better than a costly and confusing patchwork of different state labeling,” says Pamela Baily, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association. “Food and beverage companies fully embrace the importance of making available to consumers the information they want about their products, and are already doing something about it. Our innovative SmartLabel technology initiative puts detailed information about thousands of products right at the fingertips of consumers – more information than could ever fit on a package.”