Why the FDA doesn’t want you to say ‘NON-GMO’

All over the world people are talking about GMOs (genetically modified organisms). 60 countries have completely banned GMOs but here in the USA, labeling requirements have been up to the discretion of each state.

This issue has been brought to Congress and we will debate this as a country.

There are 85 GMO related bills in 29 states on the topic of GMO labeling. 3 states in the USA have passed laws requiring food companies to label their products if they contain GMO ingredients.

non GMO

The FDA isn’t interested in the broad and inaccurate term “non-GMO” because “most foods do not contain entire organisms”. The FDA would rather see terms like, “not bioengineered” or “this oil is made from soybeans that were not genetically engineered”.

Many food companies have already began labeling their products to certify the absence of genetically engineering, voluntarily. About 34,000 products are now labeled with the non-GMO seal. In a years time, the products certified with this label has increased by 10,000!

One of the bills being presented to the senate may require companies to use a QR code (the pixelated square that can be scanned with a smartphone) to list any genetic engineering of the ingredients in the product.

Consumers are hearing about GMOs and want to learn more about what it means and how to avoid them.

In the USA there are 8 GMO products allowed to be sold:

  1. Corn
  2. Soy
  3. Alfalfa
  4. Canola
  5. Cotton
  6. Papaya
  7. Sugar beets
  8. Zucchini and Yellow summer squash

In addition to this list I would add the majority of processed foods because most corn syrup is made from GMO corn. Since the 1980’s, the majority of the animals we eat have been fed with GMO animal feed, this is something else to consider.

The proposed bill, Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, states the following:

“Section 424”. Food derived from new plant varieties

(2)Labeling required

The Secretary may require that the labeling of a food produced from, containing, or consisting of a genetically engineered plant contain a statement to adequately inform consumers of a difference between the food so produced and its comparable food if the Secretary determines that—

(A) there is a material difference in the functional, nutritional, or compositional characteristics, allergenicity, or other attributes between the food so produced and its comparable food; and

(B) the disclosure of such material difference is necessary to protect public health and safety or to prevent the label or labeling of the food so produced from being false or misleading in any particular.

Section 203. Effective date; preemption

(b)Prohibitions against mandatory labeling of food developed using genetic engineering

(1)In general

Subject to paragraph (2), no State or political subdivision of a State may directly or indirectly establish under any authority or continue in effect as to any covered product (as defined in section 291 of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, as added by section 201 of this Act) in interstate commerce, any requirement for the labeling of a covered product indicating the product as having been produced from, containing, or consisting of a genetically engineered plant, including any requirements for claims that a covered product is or contains an ingredient that was produced from, contains, or consists of a genetically engineered plant.”

This is the section of the law that concerns most people. The way section 203 is written, it would make it illegal for the three states that have passed GMO labeling requirements to put it in effect and prevent any other states from passing similar laws.

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