What the GMO Labeling Law Means for Your Food Business

Organic is Non-GMOOn August 1, 2016 President Obama signed a GMO Labeling bill into law and overrides the Vermont GMO Labeling Law that went into effect on July 1, 2016. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has two years to write the rules. (Which means food companies will likely have until August 2018 – possibly longer- to comply.)

The good news? If you already produce certified organic food products, you are already non-GMO. That is because any grower or food manufacturer that wishes to become USDA Certified Organic must abstain from using any genetically modified ingredients. Therefore, if you’d like, you can add a statement on your package such as, “GMO Free,” or “Made with non-GMO Ingredients,” or “Always Organic, Always non-GMO,” etc. However, if you’re not certified organic but still want to make a non-GMO claim, you will need to go through the non-GMO Certified process.

The bad news? This federal law is said to be a much more confusing and less impactful than what was passed in Vermont for one main reason, how the on-package labeling is to appear.  For example, the Vermont law required that any product containing GMOs must state, “produced with genetic engineering” on the product.  However, the federal law gives food companies a variety of ways to claim GMO ingredients: say it in plain words on the package or provide a QR code, 1-800 number, or website for consumers to visit for more information. Many argue that this does not give the consumer needed information and transparency at the point of purchase.

Why we should take note of this issue? These laws come at a time when the non-GMO claim is one of the fastest growing on-package statements -with more than 15% of new product packages making a non-GMO reference in 2015, according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database. At the same time, a recent global consumer study by HealthFocus International reveals 87% of consumers globally think non-GMO products are healthier and 55% think genetically modified crops are worse for the environment.

With these on-going market indicators, it is clear that the GMO issue isn’t going anywhere. Regardless of what the final rules come to be for the new federal law, food businesses will need to be prepared to be transparent in their use of genetically modified ingredients.

Remember, all USDA certified organic products do not allow genetically modified organisms (GMOs). When you purchase certified organic ingredients from High Quality Organics you are purchasing products that have not been made with genetically modified organisms.

For additional information visit:
Non-GMO requirements under the National Organic Program
Can GMOs be used in USDA Certified Products?
Why should I have my products Non-GMO Project Verified if my products are already USDA Certified Organic?