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USDA releases final regulations on mandatory disclosure of food produced using genetic engineering

Posted: 2 January 2019 | | No comments yet

CSF claims regulations include provisions that will, “… leave the majority of GMO derived foods unlabelled; discriminate against more than 100 million Americans; and prohibit the use of the widely known terms ‘GMO’ and ‘GE’.”

The US Center for Food Safety (CFS) has reacted to the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) release of final regulations on the mandatory disclosure of foods produced using genetic engineering. It claims they include provisions that will, “… leave the majority of GMO derived foods unlabelled; discriminate against more than 100 million Americans; and prohibit the use of the widely known terms ‘GMO’ and ‘GE’.” CFS believes the fact that the regulations allow for the use of QR codes, whose information can only be accessed by those with smart phones and broadband, it also discriminatory. 

“The USDA has betrayed the public trust by denying Americans the right to know how their food is produced,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director at Center for Food Safety. “Instead of providing clarity and transparency, they have created large-scale confusion and uncertainty for consumers, food producers, and retailers.”

The majority of GE foods would not be labelled as a result of provisions that exempt highly-refined products of GMOs, and set a high five per cent threshold for unintended presence of GE ingredients. Says the CFS.  “The five per cent threshold for the unintended presence of GE ingredients in processed food is far too high – over five times higher than the European Union’s 0.9 per cent standard.

“Right now, organic and certified Non-GMO Project labels remain the only dependable way to avoid GMOs,” stated Rebecca Spector, West Coast director at Center for Food Safety. “We applaud food companies like Campbell’s, Mars, and Danone for committing to on-package labelling and we urge companies such as Kellogg’s, Coca Cola, and General Mills to follow suit or they will face consumer anger, frustration, and corporate campaigns.” 

The regulations come out of a 2016 law signed by President Obama prohibiting state GE labelling laws and creating a federal ‘disclosure’ program. The regulations are effective beginning January 2020. The labelling is required to be implemented by food manufacturers in January 2022.

“Unfortunately instead of putting this issue behind us, these regulations will almost certainly lead to litigation, more state legislation, and efforts to amend the federal law,” said George Kimbrell, CFS legal director. “We will explore all legal avenues to ensure meaningful labelling and protect the public’s right to know.” 

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