Thursday, January 17, 2019

USDA releases final GMO labeling standards

"Most studies have shown that consumers expect highly processed ingredients to be labeled and many food manufacturers want to provide that information."

The United States Department of Agriculture revealed it’s final GMO labeling standard. Under the new rule, National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, genetically engineered ingredients will be labeled as “bioengineered” or BE foods.

After lots of controversy and battling between the food industry and chemical giants and state GMO mandates, in 2016 President Obama signed a law that tasked the Secretary of Agriculture to come up with a labeling standard for products containing GMOs, EcoWatch reported.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the new labeling standard on Thursday and said his hope was to increase transparency and create a consistent labeling of ingredients for consumers to go by.

“The standard also avoids a patchwork state-by-state system that could be confusing to consumers,” Perdue said.

According to the USDA, the labeling will begin on Jan. 1, 2022 and food companies will have four options regarding disclosure:

  • On-package text, e.g. “Bioengineered Food,” or “Contains a Bioengineered Food Ingredient.”
  • Electronic or digital disclosure – must include instructions to “Scan here for more food information” or similar language, and include a phone number
  • Text message disclosure
  • Or a USDA-approved symbol:

While many critics are happy to have a labeling standard in place, some argue that it could cause confusion for consumers who might be looking for the letters such as, GMO, or words like, genetically engineered, and not see them on the label. Secondly, the “new standard allows an exemption for highly processed ingredients such as sugar and vegetable oils that are chemically indistinguishable from their non-GMO counterparts,” Gregory Jaffe from he Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) said.

“Most studies have shown that consumers expect highly processed ingredients to be labeled and many food manufacturers want to provide that information,” Jaffe said. “CSPI agrees with the decision to disclose highly processed ingredients as ‘derived from bioengineering,’ but disagrees with USDA’s decision to not mandate that disclosure.”

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