GMO food labeling deadline looms—and loopholes abound
Published: February 8, 2021
Category: GMO News
According to the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS), GMO ingredients must be disclosed on product labels by December 31, 2021. Despite the goal of making shoppers aware of GMO presence, the standard is full of exemptions, compliance confusion, and flaws.
This flawed standard won’t make it easy for consumers to locate GMOs, and because of safety concerns many want to avoid them entirely. As the Non-GMO Project points out, requiring use of the term “bioengineered” in disclosures instead of the more familiar “GMO” is an obstacle. The standard allows an “unreasonably high” 5% ingredient threshold for GMO contamination, compared to the EU threshold of 0.9% (also used by the Non-GMO Project). Disclosure options include text, symbol, electronic or digital link (QR code), phone number, or Web address. There are no penalties for failing to comply with the NBFDS—whereas the National Organic Program lays a fine of $11,000 per violation.
In terms of exemptions, businesses generating less than $2.5 million in sales are exempt from labeling; highly refined sugars and oils from corn, soybeans, canola, and sugar beets are also exempt. Food from restaurants, food trucks, or delis, or on airlines are exempt, as well as meat, poultry, and egg products. Since GMO-derived oils and sweeteners are common in packaged foods, baked goods, salad dressings, and snacks, thousands of popular grocery items won’t be labeled—as many as one in every six foods containing GMOs may be exempt because of loopholes.
Formulations will have to use reputable suppliers to avoid labeling requirements, including derivatives and carriers such as starches, fibers, flavors, and lecithin.
Some companies have chosen to openly display GMO presence in their products including Campbell’s soups, Post Raisin Bran, and Mars (candies).
Non-GMO labels are proliferating, as marketers hope they will draw concerned consumers.
Sources: Meat & Poultry; The Fern
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Organic & Non-GMO Insights February 2021