USDA Drafts Proposal on GMOs

The agency exchanges the term “genetically modified” with “bioengineered,” and allows companies to pick how to disclose ingredients.

May 07, 2018

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has finally come up with a proposal for how companies should alert consumers to the presence of genetically modified (GMO) ingredients in products, Politico reports. One major change is the agency will let companies use “bioengineered food” for GMO because it thinks bioengineered “adequately describes food products of the technology that Congress intended to be within the scope of” the law.

Food manufacturers have been asking for a national standard for years. The new mandate will also let the companies pick how to disclose GMOs/bioengineered ingredients on packaging, such as a symbol or scannable code. Symbol suggestions include a smiley face with “BE,” a sunburst and a field. 

The proposal “is a critical step towards establishing” standards under a law that “prevented a state-by-state patchwork of labeling laws, that would have cost U.S. consumers, farmers, and manufacturers billions of dollars,” stated the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food. 

The USDA has until July 29 to finish the rule to give a mandatory national standards that companies will be required to adhere to. The agency will seek public comments for 60 days. Issues the agency still has to hammer out include what “found in nature” means and how much GMO in a food product will require labeling. 


Retailers, food manufacturers, and other stakeholders will have time to file comments on the proposal during this time. NACS encourages retailers with a private label to review the proposal. Stay tuned to the NACS Daily for more information.