Lately there has been a lot of talk about creating new labels to help consumers understand what’s in their food. Much of this attention is focused on genetically modified organisms or GMOs. Unfortunately, GMOs are ubiquitous in industrial agriculture, especially corn, soy, and sugar beets. By some estimates, over 80% of all processed foods contain GMOs.
One effort, Just Label It! has filed a legal petition calling on the FDA to label genetically engineered (GE) foods. It points out that many countries around the world require GE labeling, as well as results of the ABC News poll which found 93% of American consumers want the government to mandate labeling of GE foods. And it is sure to meet stiff resistance in Congress.
Another, The Non-GMO Project, offers a unique label that indicates “a product has been produced according to rigorous best practices for GMO avoidance, including testing of risk ingredients.” The fee-based verification program encourages manufacturers to leverage the Non-GMO Project seal on packaging and advertising. And it is sure to cause consumer confusion on the shelf.
So I have to ask…why bother when the government already has a sanctioned program that addresses GMOs? It’s been around for over 10 years with its own easily identifiable seal… USDA Organic! The USDA Organic seal sets the standard for organic production, but it’s so much more. According to the National Organic Program, products displaying the USDA Organic seal must:
- Integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources
- Promote ecological balance
- Conserve biodiversity
- Contain No
- Synthetic fertilizers or pesticides
- Sewage sludge
That’s right. Certified Organic = Certified No GMOs. Who knew it could be so simple?!
So before we rally the troops toward another DC stalemate or create a redundant (and costly) new sticker, why not spend our limited time and energy raising awareness of the already approved USDA Organic program. After all, if it’s not broke, why relabel it!