As an alliance representing tens of thousands of farmers, producers, and food manufacturers who stand to be impacted by the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, we are committed to advancing truthful, non-misleading product labeling and will correct misinformation in the public discourse to ensure that the scientific consensus on the safety and benefits of bioengineering in agriculture guides the policymaking.
The fact is bioengineered foods are safe.
More than 1,500 studies have been conducted to support the safety of bioengineering. Bioengineered foods have been evaluated and approved around the world and been consumed for more than two decades with no food safety incidents. There are no nutritional differences between bioengineered and non-bioengineered foods, meaning that non-bioengineered foods are not “healthier” than bioengineered foods.
When questioned under oath before Congress, even advocates for mandatory labeling policies did not dispute that foods produced with biotechnology are safe. This means that even those with the loudest voices asking for labeling of bioengineered foods are not implying that there are any safety or health concerns associated with bioengineering.
Yet when anti-biotechnology groups communicate with their supporters, their messages attempt to drum up support for labeling by spreading misleading information about the safety of bioengineered products. However, these groups often fail to mention that they are primarily funded by parts of the food industry that seek a competitive advantage in the marketplace through scare tactics about the health and safety of modern agricultural practices.
In response to industry-funded activists pushing for burdensome labeling laws on the state level, Congress passed the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure law in 2016 to establish a national standard for mandatory disclosure of bioengineered foods. This law is intended to avoid a patchwork of state laws that would negatively impact the efficient movement of food products between states, significantly increase costs to consumers, and potentially create confusion among consumers who would have to navigate a variety of different labels for the same products.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has now provided an opportunity for public comment on the plan to implement this law.
The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard calls for labeling “bioengineered foods”, which have genetic material not naturally part of the crop from which the food was produced. Specifically, it calls for USDA to require labeling of food products that contain bioengineered genetic material or rDNA. This internationally recognized distinction is important because consumers expect a government mandated label statement to indicate something is different about the food. To require a label statement on foods that are no different from foods produced without bioengineering would mislead consumers to think the food is different
For instance, when bioengineered crops are used to produce pure oils, starches, and sugars, the use of bioengineering does not cause a genetic difference in those products as genetic material is not present in pure oils, starches, and sugars. Similarly, use of advanced plant breeding techniques that do not introduce new genetic material to a plant and that could be accomplished through conventional plant breeding techniques also do not create a difference in foods. In both cases, since there is no difference in the food, the final rule should not mandate a difference in labeling.
This platform is dedicated to a facts-based discussion about use and labeling of bioengineering in agriculture. You are invited to help us set the record straight.