Food Labeling Changes to Know About : Genetically Modified Ingredients
by Nancy Weyrauch Mehlert, MS
Effective, January 1, 2022, The USDA, through The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure law requires all food manufacturers to disclose if genetically modified ingredients are in their products. The way in which this is done however will not be a simple, uniform way such as an established symbol similar to the USDA Organic Certification. Rather, the manufacturer has options including a text message, a symbol, digital links, or verbiage on the package.
According to the USDA*, “The Standard defines bioengineered foods as those that contain detectable genetic material that has been modified through certain lab techniques and cannot be created through conventional breeding or found in nature.” Some call that “Frankenfood”, others “fake food”, and “man”-ufactured food. Anyway you call it, there is nothing natural about it and likely represents a foreign enemy to the human body, potentially contributing to harm, disease, immune response, inflammation, and/or congestion.
According to the Environmental Working Group,* “Shockingly, virtually no long-term health studies have been done on consumption of genetically engineered food. And there aren’t likely to be any such studies anytime soon. The government isn’t doing this kind of research and is not requiring it of the food industry. It isn’t even making it possible for independent scientists to do it, since under the law, those who hold patents on genetically engineered food get to decide in most cases what testing can – and cannot – be conducted. As a result, the jury is still out – in fact, it hasn’t even heard the evidence – on whether genetically engineered food might cause health problems. And the answer to this question will likely remain unclear for years.”
Apparently the organic and GMO Project Verified labels will still be in use. As a reminder, the USDA Organic standard symbol does mean synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used. Thus buying organic should be a safe way to always avoid genetically modified or bioengineered food.
The Non-GMO Project Verified* is a symbol created by a non-profit organization working in the interest of the consumer. According to nongmoproject.org, “ the Non-GMO Project Verified mark assures consumers that the product bearing the label has been evaluated for compliance with the Non-GMO Standard, which can be found here. Similar to the USDA Organic symbol, this symbol should give some confidence that the product is free of genetic modification and is, we believe, a good measure of protection.
You may also see “Bioengineered Food Ingredients” written on the label. It may be necessary to scan the barcode or look at the manufacturer’s webpage to find out. My experience on webpages is that many food producers make it difficult to find nutritional facts and ingredient lists because they don’t really want you to find the information, but they are required to provide it. You may discover that this disclosure is not easy to find. Others will be forthcoming and more direct.
For optimal health and wellness, we recommend that you make every effort to avoid genetically engineered food. Recognize that most restaurant food will contain it, while eating at home after careful selection during grocery shopping will guarantee the best success.
Mira Dessy, The Ingredient Guru, Weekly Email dated January 4, 2022, The New GMO Label.