January 6, 2017

No Comments

Understanding GMO Labeling Legislation

Venable, has published a quick primer on the U.S. law that mandates a national standard for disclosing bioengineered foods.


In summary

  • Federal Law pre-empts states from GMO legislation.
  • Applies to foods (and dietary supplements are foods) as defined by:
    • Food Drug & Cosmetics Act, foods subject to labeling requirements under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, or the Egg Products Inspection Act.
  • GMO foods, contain genetic material that
    • has been modified through in vitro recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) techniques and
    • the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature.
    • USDA will need to provide guidance and interpretation.
  • A GMO labeling notice is required,
    • As a text statement, or
    • Electronic link (such as QR Codes) to a statement
  • Non-GMO assertion
    • A Non-GMO certification,  under the National Organic Program (7 U.S.C. § 6501 et seq.), is sufficient to claim the absence of bioengineering in the food (e.g., “not bioengineered,” “non-GMO,” or another similar claim).


Source: Understanding GMO Labeling Legislation

August 19, 2016

No Comments

USDA Guidance on Voluntary GMO labeling

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) has released guidance on voluntary labeling statements for bioengineered and genetically modified ingredients  or animal feed.

  • Negative claims are “special statements and claims”and
  • are not generically approved and
  • establishments are required to submit labels with negative claims to FSIS for prior approval before using them on labels or labeling.
  • UNLESS  For meat, poultry or egg products with negative claims [i.e. claiming the absence of GMO ingredients] that FSIS has previously approved,
  • [then] the establishment is allowed to change the termsnon-genetically engineered” or “non-GE” to “non-GMO” or “no genetically modified organisms” without approval.”

Essentially if you have USDA regulated product (meat, poultry, or egg) and you want to voluntarily declare “no-GMO” then you must submit your labels for approval, except if you previously received label approval and are swapping terms “non-genetically engineered” or “non-GE” to “non-GMO” or “no genetically modified organisms”.

August 1, 2016

No Comments

Is the Vermont GMO law, null and void?


On July 29th, the president signed into law “S. 764, which directs the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a national mandatory bioengineered food disclosure standard”

The law  pre-empts Vermont’s GMO law that went into effect July 1st.  Specifically the bill says

Senate Bill 764

no State or political subdivision of a State may directly or indirectly establish under any authority or continue in effect…any requirement relating to the labeling or disclosure of whether a food is bioengineered”

The bill suggests that an electronic mark (i.e. think Smart Labels, and QR Codes) should be used to provide the consumer with GMO information.  Additionally if an electronic mark is to be used then the company cannot collect personal demographics information.


So yes, Vermont’s and every other state, agency – cannot require on package labeling; only the Feds will have that right. But given companies and grocery stores want to manage their brands, and require labeling, we can expect their to be legal challenges.


See also: Grocery Manufacturers Association Press Release

July 5, 2016

No Comments

Celebration or commiseration: Vermont GMO food labeling law in effect.

Vermont became the first state in the nation Friday to require food labels on products made with genetic engineering. Watch Vermont TV WPZT, for their spin.

Source: Celebration, confusion mark start of Vermont GMO food labeling law

May 10, 2016

No Comments

GMO Mushrooms escape US Regulation


A fungus engineered with the CRISPR–Cas9 technique can be cultivated and sold without further oversight.


Beside growing in the dark, mushrooms now have the ability to bypass government GMO scrutiny.  What this means to the non-GMO movement and other foods is anyones guess.

Source: Gene-edited CRISPR mushroom escapes US regulation : Nature News & Comment

May 6, 2016

No Comments

Non-GMO claims – fertile ground for lawsuits

gmoCowBe careful of superlatives – Best, Pure, All Natural and even “non-GMO”.  They all imply an absolute.  “non-GMO” implies  “nothing — nada —  zero — zilch” genetically modified organisms.  As Chiplote is finding, if you use “non-GMO”  you can expect the lawyers to fight over the gray. When lawyers spar the dollars just add up, so know your risks.

Food Navigator-USA

An order from a Florida judge in a lawsuit vs Chipotle should serve a warning to all food marketers that they could be sued if they make non-GMO claims about foods containing dairy or meat from animals fed GE feed, legal experts have warned.

Source: Non-GMO claims on foods containing dairy or meat are fertile ground for false ad lawsuits, warn attorneys


Source: I’m a Cow Song

April 20, 2016

No Comments

FDA’s 2016 prioritizes rulings for FSMA, product labeling, GRAS, GMOs

FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition is plowing ahead with an ambitious and wide-ranging agenda for the remainder of 2016 without pause after knocking out five final or proposed rules related to food safety and nutrition in just as many weeks.

Source: FDA’s 2016 food agenda prioritizes FSMA, product labeling, GRAS, GMOs

April 18, 2016

No Comments

Vermont GMO Enforced by bounty hunters starting July 1st

UPDATE:  See Is the Vermont GMO law, null and void?

Vermont’s new law for foods produced with genetically engineering is confusing. Do you need to worry now? Short answer yes!  But you will have to decide your own deadline July 1st or Dec 31st 2016.


One vote for July 1st:

Vermont’s Act 120 and CP 121 requires all food product with genetic engineer and offered for retail sale in Vermont to be properly labeled by July 1, 2016.

One vote for Dec 31st:

Out of recognition that some food products have longer shelf lives, CP 121 creates a six -month “safe harbor” … through December 31, 2016. (Vermont State Attorney General, William H. Sorrell  memorandum)

One vote for uncertainty:

Bounty hunters could come after you from day one if you are not compliant with Vermont GMO labeling law, warns attorney ( Elaine Watson+article @ foodnavigator-usa)

Bottom line. Get started.  Get you labels compliant with Vermont’s law.