New GMO labeling rules spark debate

The food industry is grappling with questions about how to comply with new labeling rules for genetically modified foods, experts have said.

The new rules are Congress’ response to the confusion created by varying state legislation on genetically modified organisms. The new mandatory standard supersedes state laws and creates a uniform national standard, Food Safety Magazine reported.

New rules under the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) mandated compliance as of January 1, 2022 with the new “BE” (bio-engineered) designation. engineering), which replaces the term “GMO” for genetically modified foods. amended.

A bioengineered animal or plant is one in which the DNA of a new gene has been incorporated to give it a useful property, such as improved nutritional value or disease resistance. Currently, the only biotech foods are certain apples, canola, corn, eggplant, papaya, pineapple, potato, and salmon.

Cara Harbstreet, registered dietitian and founder of Street Smart Nutrition, said food institute “The terms ‘GMO’ and ‘GM’ (genetically modified) were used more consistently, even without a standardized definition; initiating another change involves a process of relearning. This time around, I hope that clearer communication about what constitutes a “food derived from biotechnology” will contribute to a global understanding. …”

REQUIRED CHANGES

Labeling changes can be made in several ways: the package can have a round green label that says “bioengineered” or “bioengineered”, or it can say “contains an ingredient from bio-engineering”, or he can provide a phone number to call or text for more information, or he can give a QR code to access the online disclosure.

But the rules give rise to many loopholes and issues, from protests over discrimination against the more than 100 million American consumers who lack the technology to use QR codes, to exactly what factors make a product “organic- designed”, the Washington Post reported.

Some experts say the change is an attempt to dispel the pejorative connotation of the “GMO” designation.

“GMOs are now gone and the label for GM foods is now ‘bio-engineered’, whatever that means. It seems much less threatening. It’s lovely. It’s got a bucolic farm scene on it, so it’s not just bioengineering, it’s your fantasy of rural America,” according to Marion Nestle, semi-retired professor of nutrition and food studies. at New York University, by nbcnews.com.

CREATING CONFUSION?

Harbstreet fears the changes will amount to quicksand that will affect consumer perception of the new terms and even make things blurry.

The consequences of non-compliance under the new standard also appear vague, experts say. The USDA will respond to complaints, but there will be no spot checks of in-store food products. Those who suspect violations may file a written complaint with the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service website.

“The already overburdened consumer will have to spend four times as long in the supermarket reading labels. And now they will have to be USDA citizen investigators to make sure this law has consequences. said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, on To post reported.

USDA’s enforcement authority is limited to investigating allegedly non-compliant entities and publishing the results of investigations. The USDA cannot recall products or issue damages for violations, but the risk of litigation from consumers and competitors does exist.

SUPPLY CHAIN ​​FACTORS

Supply chain issues from the ongoing pandemic also factor in, but experts differ on whether that’s for better or worse.

the To post reported that trade groups for food companies and manufacturers are denouncing the initiation of such a change during the pandemic and the ensuing supply chain debacle; this decision unduly weighs on an industry that is already suffering. On the other hand, the calendar can be useful in preparing the compliance infrastructure of companies.

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