Posted May 18, 2015
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed a new government certification and labeling for foods that are free of genetically modified ingredients, according to a U.S. News article available here. The New York Times also published an article available hereand ABC News here.
Consumers groups have been pushing for mandatory labeling of the genetically modified organisms (GMO).
The certification is the first of its kind, and it would be voluntary, however, companies would have to pay for it. If approved, the foods would be able to carry a “USDA Process Verified” label along with a claim that they are GMO free.
Agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, outlined the new certification in a May 1 letter to department employees, saying it was done at the request of a “leading global company,” which was not identified, according to The New York Times.
The government said GMOs on the market now are safe, so mandatory labels are not needed, but consumer groups say shoppers still have a right to know what is in their food.
Vilsack said the USDA certification is being created through the department’s Agriculture Marketing Service, which works with interested companies to certify the accuracy of the claims they are making on food packages, such as “humanely raised” or “no antibiotics ever.” Companies pay the Agricultural Marketing Service to verify a claim, and if approved, they can market the foods with the USDA process verified label, according to ABC News.
“Recently, a leading global company asked AMS to help verify that the corn and soybeans it uses in its products are not genetically engineered so that the company could label the products as such,” Vilsack wrote in the letter. “AMS worked with the company to develop testing and verification processes to verify the non-GE claim.”
For more information on biotechnology, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.