New Guidelines for GM Food Labels

December 5, 2015 02:13 AM
New Guidelines for GM Food Labels

FDA says the presence and absence of information relevant to misleading labeling

The federal government issued new guidelines in November for the voluntary labeling of genetically modified (GM) foods, outlining what food manufacturers should say.

“The presence and absence of information are relevant to whether labeling is misleading,” said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which stressed straightforward, science-based statements about the presence—or absence—of GM ingredients.

According to the agency, examples of such statements might be “not bioengineered,” “our corn growers do not plant bioengineered seeds” or “this oil is made from soybeans that were not genetically engineered.”

The issue of mandatory labeling of GM foods has been a hot topic for consumers, the food industry and the agriculture community.

After voters and legislators in Oregon, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Colorado and Vermont considered mandatory labels, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill in July that would prevent such labels. 

Many in the ag community believe mandatory labels on GM products, which have been approved as safe for human consumption, would unfairly tarnish products in consumers’ minds.

“The FDA’s approach to voluntary labeling of food products would provide American consumers with truthful information in a clear manner that respects regulatory processes already in place,” said National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Md. “The FDA stood firmly both with the people who grow our food and those who buy it. A voluntary labeling system, like the one outlined, provides information that would allow consumers to make choices based on facts and not on fear.” 

The American Soybean Association (ASA) agreed. “We have consistently said explicit labeling should be reserved for health or safety concerns, and science has time and time again proven that these concerns don’t apply to GMOs,” said ASA President Wade Cowan, who farms in Texas. “Slapping a warning label on the front of a food product when no such warning is warranted will only serve to steer people away from the safe and affordable food they need to feed their families. 

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