GE food labeling update

This article was originally published in August 2017

GE food labeling update

The rulemaking process for the first National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard is underway and we need your help to get the best possible results. There is a lot at stake.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is required to have the final rules in place by July 2018. We expect to see USDA’s proposed rules sometime this fall, with a public comment period. The rules will determine whether we get transparent and meaningful labels nationwide, or not.

USDA staff has posed 30 questions to stakeholders, which includes PCC and you as shoppers, and we hope you will join us in commenting to USDA on what you want to see in GE labeling. Please submit your comments to USDA at

PCC’s key points include:

  • The GMO definition should apply to all foods produced with genetic engineering, including refined sugars and oils.
  • The GMO definition should apply to foods produced with emerging GE techniques, including gene editing, gene silencing and synthetic biology.
  • The GMO definition should conform with USDA’s existing definition in organic standards, and with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) acknowledgement of the global definition in the Codex Alimentarius.
  • Consumers expect GE disclosures to be declared ingredient-by-ingredient.
  • The standard must be compatible with international trading partners.
  • Consumers want uniform, on-package GE disclosures, as the FDA requires for other food labeling.
  • If or when QR codes are used for disclosure, USDA must require convenient scanners in stores to ensure equal access to GE information by millions of consumers who don’t have smartphones.

PCC has worked hard on GE labeling for 20 years. Together, we petitioned USDA to prevent genetic engineering from being allowed in organic farming — 30,000 letters from PCC members alone, 10 percent of all the nation’s public comments.

Getting the best rules possible, once again, is the final push. To read our comments, visit here.

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