Lawsuit challenges narrow and unclear GMO food labeling rules
Published: December 9, 2022
Category: GMO News, The Non-GMO Blog
Center for Food Safety (CFS) and a coalition of food labeling nonprofits and retailers filed an appeal last week with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, challenging a previous ruling that allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to continue using the misleading terminology “bioengineered” and avoid labeling the majority of genetically engineered (GMO) foods.
In the lower court case, CFS argued that USDA must label all GMO foods, refined or not, using terminology that consumers understand, such as “GE” or “GMO.” CFS argued that the labels must appear on the package itself, without requiring consumers to scan a QR code or text a phone number for each food they purchase.
The district court held that the USDA’s decision to allow GMO foods to only be labeled with a QR code was unlawful, and that USDA must instead add disclosure options to those foods under USDA’s National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. However, the court sided with USDA on several other challenges brought by the plaintiffs, upholding USDA’s use of the new, unfamiliar terminology, “bioengineered,” and disallowing the terms “GE” or “GMO.” The court also ruled that USDA may continue excluding “highly refined” products, such as oils and some processed foods, from mandatory disclosure unless the GE material is “detectable” by a manufacturer’s chosen testing method.
“By allowing USDA to exclude highly refined foods from the mandatory scope of disclosure, the lower court’s ruling allows food manufacturers to continue concealing the truth from consumers about how their foods are produced,” said Meredith Stevenson, staff attorney at CFS and counsel for appellants. “Most consumers want to know if their foods are produced using GMOs, based on reasons including health and the impact of GMOs on soils and the environment.”
The appellants in the case are a coalition of nonprofits and retailers, including Natural Grocers, Puget Consumers Co-op, Good Earth Natural Foods, Citizens for GMO Labeling, Labels GMOs, Rural Vermont, National Organic Coalition, and Center for Food Safety.
Source: Center for Food Safety
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Organic & Non-GMO Insights December 2022