|USDA’s New GMO Labeling Guidance: Untested, Undisclosed
For anyone following the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), you already know about the U.S.’s problems with transparency. Last week, the United States Department of Agriculture released guidelines that made things even worse. The testing of individual food products is not a requirement and the decision to label is based solely on the manufacturer’s own records—meaning, nobody’s testing and nobody’s looking. In many ways this is even worse than having no labeling requirements for GMOs.
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Without independent annual audits and testing for the absence of GMOs, who do these rules benefit? Certainly not consumers. As in many other countries, most American consumers believe GMOs should be labeled. We finally have legislation in the U.S. requiring some very minimal steps in that direction, but this new guidance significantly weakens it. If the information is hidden, it’s not informing anyone and does not serve consumers.
Testing provides consumers with factual assurance of the absence of GMOs. This is why our Certified Non-GMO by AGW program requires it, along with meaningful animal welfare standards. It’s also why people trust our label, and why farmers seek it out. Labeling should help shoppers be fully informed—whether they’re deciding whether to buy a product with or without GMOs. Labeling only works if it’s trusted and transparent, and this new guidance from the USDA fails on both counts.
Thankfully, there are plenty of farms and businesses who are proud of their practices and stepping up to give consumers the transparency they demand—you can find them here.
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