GMO labels spark outcry
The government will soon require that food makers label products containing genetically modified organisms—but consumer advocacy groups say the proposed labeling is insufficient and confusing. There is currently no evidence that genetically modified organisms pose a health risk, but Congress passed a law in 2016 requiring food makers to alert consumers when products contain them. In its proposed guidelines for the labeling requirements, The Washington Post reports, the Department of Agriculture recommends dropping the widely used term GMO in favor of “BE,” or bioengineered. The USDA suggests that the manufacturers have the option of containing that label within an encrypted image that can be read only via smartphone—even though a quarter of Americans don’t own such a device. The agency also doesn’t clarify whether the guidelines will extend to foods that contain only traces of bioengineered ingredients. Wenonah Hauter of the consumer group Food & Water Watch, denounced the “loophole-ridden” rules as a “giveaway to the agribusiness and food industries that want to keep consumers in the dark.” The new guidelines will be finalized this summer, after a 60-day public comment period.