The fight for GMO labeling in North America has been going on for more than 10 years. And now, the law requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods in the U.S. is scheduled to go into effect on July 29th. But the news isn’t as good as it sounds.
The law that passed in 2016 left a lot of room for interpretation. And recently, on May 3rd, 2018, the U.S. Federal Department of Agriculture released its draft regulations, which are deeply concerning to many consumer advocacy organizations.
In fact, the proposed GMO labeling plan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is so full of loopholes you could drive a truckload of Roundup through it.
If you want clear, consumer-friendly GMO labeling in the US, now is a critical time to take action.
The Truth About GMOs and GMO Labeling
GMOs are in more than 80% of the foods on North America’s supermarket shelves and restaurant menus.
Most GMO crops have been engineered for one or both of these reasons:
- To be pesticide producers (they carry the insecticide Bt. in every cell of the plant)
- To be herbicide tolerant (they are directly sprayed with toxic weed-killer like glyphosate)
Currently, 64 countries around the world require labeling of genetically modified foods. And more than 90% of Americans want GMOs labeled. But so far, the North American food industry has kept consumers in the dark.
You can learn more about the problems with genetic engineering and the glyphosate in Roundup in this video from Ocean Robbins and Institute for Responsible Technology founder and GMO activist Jeffrey Smith.
Problems with the GMO Labeling US Proposal
The USDA’s proposed rule is supposed to give consumers a simple way to know if a food is genetically engineered.
But the current proposal comes with some serious problems. If it’s adopted:
- The labels might not use commonly-used terms like “GMO” or “GE,” but could use “bioengineered” or “BE” instead. Bioengineered is a term that’s occasionally been applied to genetically engineered foods, but it isn’t well known and could confuse consumers.
- The labeling requirements might not apply to all genetically-modified foods. The USDA is proposing to interpret the law in ways that would exempt highly processed foods, like corn and soy oil, and that would exempt many future GMO technologies, such as CRISPR gene editing. Foods with non-GMO primary ingredients, such as meat and eggs, also won’t be required to be labeled as GMO, even if the animals were fed a diet of GMO crops.
- The label won’t be a standard icon, like the USDA organic label. Food companies will have three options for declaring that their product is genetically engineered. (1) A one-sentence label declaration, such as “contains a bioengineered food ingredient” or “Call/text for more food information.” (2) A digital QR code, which requires a smartphone and Internet and which 85% of the public doesn’t even know how to use. (3) Or a standardized icon, which currently includes labels that are not neutral and that look like a product endorsement.
If the proposed rule goes into effect as planned, it will give the agribusiness companies and Big Food the ability to continue to keep consumers in the dark — permanently.
How You Can Take Action Today (By July 3rd!)
The new GMO labeling law could mandate that the food industry provide the information Americans want and deserve. However, so far, the USDA is planning to interpret the law in a way that is misleading and confusing to consumers.
But there’s good news: The comment period is open until July 3, so you have time to speak out.
If you want clear, meaningful GMOs labels that increase transparency around food, NOW is the time to take action!
About the Author
Lindsay Oberst is a Lead Editor for Food Revolution Network. As a journalist and writer, she focuses on health, nutrition, and sustainability, among other topics. She is passionate about playing with words and living a healthy, conscious, fun-filled life — and helping others do the same.
Lindsay Oberst of Food Revolution Network originally created and published this article (If You Want Clear GMO Labeling in the US — Now Is The Time to Take Action!).