New “Bioengineered” (BE) food standard may cause confusion about non-GMO and GMO foods
Published: December 7, 2021
Category: GMO Labeling News
Just as Americans were learning to distinguish genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from non-GMO ingredients, the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard will likely muddy the waters, making it harder for consumers to identify what they’re eating. Manufacturers also are challenged, as the BE standard conflicts with requirements for Non-GMO Project verification.
By January 1, 2022, bioengineered products must carry the BE label—an unfamiliar term “that most consumers likely won’t recognize and may not associate with GMOs,” added Lea Buerman, Cargill’s regulatory leader.
To further complicate matters, highly processed foods—such as sugar from GMO sugar beets, or high-fructose corn syrup from GM corn—may be exempted from the BE label because the processing makes the GM material undetectable.
BE foods don’t qualify for Non-GMO Project verification, and the BE standard doesn’t require a label for gene-edited products, another gaping loophole.
Jennifer Tesch of Healthy Food Ingredients believes the new standard will actually further consumer education on distinguishing GMOs from non-GMOs.
Regarding undetected GMOs, Lea Buerman said “The BE listing has led to a ‘three-bucket world.’ ” There are non-GMO products (derived from non-GMO crops) and bioengineered products. “But there’s also a third group of products that don’t require BE labeling, but aren’t non-GMO.” In these, processing has resulted in undetectable GMOs.
In July 2020, the Center for Food Safety and six other parties sued the USDA over the non-detectable ruling, noting that the majority of bioengineered foods fall into the highly processed category. In September 2020, a study found that gene-edited material can be detected in a GM crop, removing the excuse by companies that gene-edited ingredients are undetectable.
The global non-GMO foods market is expected to grow 14% (compound annual rate) from 2021-25.
Source: Food Business News
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Organic & Non-GMO Insights December 2021