Activist Groups Promote Labeling Policies that Would Confuse Consumers

The response from activists to the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) proposed National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard demonstrates that their goal is not to provide consumers with accurate information about the content of their food. Instead, these groups argue foods that have been processed or refined to no longer contain genetic material should be labeled as if they do.

For example, the pure oils, starches and sugars on the shelf at your local grocery store do not contain genetic material and are no different whether produced from bioengineered crops or not. Regardless of this point, activists are demanding that the USDA require labeling for these products. Not only would this be factually inaccurate, but it would create confusion and increase food costs for consumers.  

Other countries have recognized the problems which could be created with mandatory labeling of foods made with these products and therefore implemented standards that did not require labels. These countries include Australia, Brazil, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, and South Korea.

Consumers expect a government mandated food-labeling system to provide factually accurate information about the food they are buying. It is also important to keep in mind that the proposed disclosure rule is a marketing standard and does not reflect any health, safety, or nutrition concerns regarding bioengineering. Even the activist groups who argued for a wider scope to the mandatory labeling rule have admitted that bioengineering is safe.

The clear intent of the law passed by Congress requires disclosure only when foods contain genetic material introduced through bioengineering. USDA’s final rule should affirm consumer expectations and follow Congressional intent.