Basics supports consumers' right to information, including labeling that provides consumers with the information they need to make their own purchasing decisions.
The new GMO (Bioengineered, BE) labeling regulations have been in effect since February 2019, but companies have until Jan. 1, 2022 to be fully compliant.
What happened to the term GMO?
Despite widespread familiarity with the terms GMO, genetically engineered and genetic engineering, the new labels use terminology identified in the Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard—bioengineered—to describe a food that has been altered in a laboratory to possess a certain set of traits.
What does the label look like?
There are several legal options companies can choose from when labeling their products: a written on-package disclosure, a round symbol, a digital disclosure (QR code or web address) or a number that consumers can call or text for a disclosure.
How is a bioengineered product defined?
According to the regulations, a product must be labeled if it contains detectable bioengineered DNA in its final form. This definition excludes highly refined products like sweeteners and oils that lose their original DNA during processing. So, high fructose corn syrup derived from bioengineered corn may not trigger labeling, nor would vegetable oils derived from bioengineered soy. There are other exceptions, as well. Companies are actually prohibited from disclosing GMOs in any multi-ingredient food that has beef, poultry, catfish or eggs as a top ingredient - even if they contain other GMO ingredients.
We believe more transparent labeling requirements for GMO/BE foods would better serve consumers. Time will tell how these new labeling rules play out in terms of consumer choice. In the meantime, consumers who wish to avoid bioengineered foods can still look for certified organic and non-GMO Project verified.