Make Your Opinion Known About New Labeling For GMOs

 

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The USDA has released several options for what the labels might look like.
Department of Agriculture

If the questions and concerns surrounding GMOs are of interest to you, then in the next six weeks you have a unique window of opportunity. Until July 3 you are invited to share your opinion with the folks responsible for these label design options to the right. Thanks to our friends at the salt (National Public Radio, USA) for bringing this to our attention:

USDA Unveils Prototypes For GMO Food Labels, And They’re … Confusing

Foods that contains genetically modified ingredients will soon have a special label.

We recently got the first glimpse of what that label might look like, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its proposed guidelines.

This is the product of a decades-long fight between anti-GMO campaigners and Big Agriculture companies, which left neither side completely satisfied, as NPR has reported.

After Congress passed a bill in 2016 requiring labels on foods containing GMO ingredients, the USDA launched a long process to figure out the specifics. When it asked for feedback, it received 112,000 responses from consumers, farmers and manufacturers, among others.

The result?

There are a few options, and they look kind of like the labels you’d see on health food. They’re brightly colored, with greens and blues and yellows. They feature the letters B-E. Below that, some of them have a curved line.

“I mean, they look like a little smiley face,” says George Kimbrell, the legal director for the Center for Food Safety, which has pushed for labeling. “They’re very pro-biotech, cartoonishly so, and to that extent are, you know, not just imparting information but instead are essentially propaganda for the industry.”

Other options include a smiling sun, or a circle with growing plants.

The letters B-E stand for bioengineered — a term critics say is unfamiliar to the U.S. consumer, compared to more commonly used phrases like genetically engineered or GMO.

Grocery store shelves already have a lot of products with the label non-GMO, many of which include an image of a butterfly on a blade of grass.

“It’s misleading and confusing to consumers to now switch that up and use a totally different term, bioengineered, that has not been the standard commonplace nomenclature for all of this time,” says Kimbrell. He says he’d prefer these foods to be labeled with a circle saying “G” or “GMO.”

The USDA said it was not able to speak about the labels until they are finalized.

And industry representatives such as Nathan Fields, the director of biotechnology and crop inputs at the National Corn Growers Association, say the new term provides a clean slate.

“There’s some connotations around some of the terms that have been used that do cast the technology in a negative light,” says Fields. More than 90 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. is genetically engineered, though Fields says he does not expect the labels to negatively impact the industry.

The National Corn Growers Association was supportive when Congress passed the mandatory disclosure standards, in part because states such as Vermont were creating their own rules about labeling genetically engineered foods. Fields says they were concerned about a state-by-state patchwork of laws, preferring a single national standard…

Read the whole story here.

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