Labels on Genetically Altered Foods

By Megan Senger
Apr 9, 2015

Genetic modification is a technique that changes the genetic makeup of cells to enhance a desirable trait in a plant or animal. The result is a genetically modified organism (GMO).

GMO disclosure labels on transgenic food products are currently required in 64 countries worldwide (CFS 2013). In the U.S., bills calling for mandatory labels on GMO foods have been created in 26 states (Goad 2013), although none have become law except in Vermont, and even that decree is being challenged in court (Entine 2014).

As recently as the November 2014 midterm elections, voters in Colorado and Oregon opted not to make GMO labeling mandatory in their states. Labeling measures were similarly defeated in California and Washington states in 2012 and 2013. Proponents of GMO labeling laws have noted that millions of preelection promotional dollars were spent by corporate interests opposed to mandatory GMO labels—including Monsanto and DuPont (Gillam 2014).

GMO-averse consumers currently have two reputable labeling options for disclosure: the “USDA Organic” seal (which prohibits GMOs), and the “Non-GMO Project Verified” seal (from a third-party verification organization). However, few of your clients are likely to be aware of this fact. Fewer than 1 in 10 GMO-averse consumers (9%) know that organic-certified products are GMO-free, and almost half are unaware of the “Non-GMO Project Verified” label (Demeritt 2014). This is a great place to start educating your clients about food labeling.

To read more about this topic, please see “What You Don’t Know About Food Labeling Could Undermine Your Health” in the online IDEA Library or in the March 2015 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.


References

CFS (Center for Food Safety). 2013. Genetically engineered food labeling laws map. Accessed Nov. 30, 2014. www.centerforfoodsafety.org.
Demeritt, L. 2014. Growing consumer concerns point to need for GMO transparency. SmartBlog on Food & Beverage. Accessed Nov. 30, 2014. http://smartblogs.com/food-and-beverage/2014/09/17/growing-consumer-concerns-point-to-need-for-gmo-transparency.
Entine, J. 2014. Why liberal Americans are turning against GMO labeling. Forbes. Accessed Nov. 30, 2014. www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2014/08/25/why-liberal-americans-are-turning-against-gmo-labeling/
Gillam, C. 2014. GMO labeling fails in Colorado, Oregon; GMO ban passes in Maui. Reuters. Accessed Nov. 30, 2014. www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/05/us-usa-elections-gmo-idUSKBNOIP2I41105.
Goad, B. 2013. Food industry presses for voluntary GMO labeling standards. The Hill. Accessed Nov. 30, 2014. http://thehill.com/policy/regulation/190054-food-industry-presses-for-voluntary-gmo-labeling-standards-across-us.

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Megan Senger

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