Q: There’s a new USDA certification program for labeling GMO-free foods. Does that mean U.S. consumers will finally get mandatory GMO labeling, like most other civilized countries? – Antonio V., Albuquerque, New Mexico
A: No. However, this is a step in the right direction. The United States Department of Agriculture’s program to identify non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) foods is voluntary, and companies have to pay for the research verification and labeling. But it’ll be a big hit. The USDA label will say “USDA Process Verified” and will complement the GMO-free label developed by the nonprofit group The Non-GMO Project. That project is very successful, and the USDA non-GMO verification program will only fuel consumers’ ever-growing desire to know which products are GMO-free. Last year alone, sales of non-GMO products soared past $10 billion, and the market continues to grow.
This worries the giants of the GMO food industry, and rightly so. That’s why they spent more than $100 million last year to defeat consumer initiatives requiring GMO food labeling. They are currently backing a federal law called The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which would pre-empt current state laws on GMO labeling and make it virtually impossible for the Food and Drug Administration to mandate GMO labeling in the future. Critics say it’s radical and call it the DARK Act, or Deny Americans the Right to Know act.
But it looks like that strategy is backfiring. When consumers started noticing big GMO companies trying to block responsible food labeling, they started asking, “What are they trying to hide?” Answer: For starters, the herbicide glyphosate, called “probably carcinogenic” by the World Health Organization; it’s extensively used on GMO crops. This bill would allow GMO companies to sell you food treated with glyphosate without telling you.
As we’ve said many times, we are not against GMO foods, we just support truth in labeling. So write your legislators and tell them to vote against the DARK act. Demand to know what’s in your food.
© 2015 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.