Consider three buckets in G.M.O. labeling

by Jeff Gelski
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G.M.O. label
Food manufacturers should consider three buckets when preparing for the upcoming G.M.O. labeling law.
 

LAS VEGAS — Food manufacturers should consider three buckets when preparing for the upcoming G.M.O. labeling law, said Kelly McLain, a senior lawyer for Cargill.

One bucket is for products and ingredients that must be labeled as G.M.O. under the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law, she said June 27 in Las Vegas at IFT17, the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is scheduled to issue a final rule on the law in July 2018.

Another bucket is for products and ingredients that do not have to be labeled under the law. Companies should have analysis showing why the products or ingredients do not require disclosure.

G.M.O. label
Some products and ingredients must be labeled as G.M.O. under the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law.

The final bucket, one found between the other two buckets, deals with consumer trust. The federal law may not mandate some ingredients and products be labeled as G.M.O., but companies voluntarily may choose to provide labeling and further information on them, with hopes of gaining consumer trust. Ms. McLain said. 

High-fructose corn syrup and highly refined oils, when the final rule is given, may not need labeling under the strict reading of the law, she said. Some products and ingredients may not need to be labeled as G.M.O. even though genetically modified processing aids like enzymes may be used when producing them.

“I think it’s important to consider, when we think about that strict interpretation, how consumers are likely to react to that,” Ms. McLain said.

Consumers have three issues with G.M.O. foods, she said.

Woman reading nutrition panel
Many consumers think G.M.O. does not sound healthy.
 

“They don’t know whether they should be concerned whether it is safe or not,” she said in explaining the first issue – consumer confusion. 

Many consumers think G.M.O. does not sound healthy, she said in explaining the second issue. A general mistrust of large companies is the third issue.

“Providing disclosures are a way to speak to consumers and start the path down the transparency lane in order to let science win the day,” Ms. McLain said.

The Barack Obama administration enacted the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law on July 29, 2016. The U.S.D.A. hopes to release a proposed rule for public comment this fall, said Craig Morris, Ph.D., a deputy administrator for the U.S.D.A.’s Agricultural Marketing Service.
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