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Supplement Makers Brace for Federal GMO Labeling

Sometimes a law is created to answer the tough questions, take a bold new stance, or even simply to close loopholes in existing laws. And sometimes a law is created that actually raises more questions than it answers. The federal GMO (genetically modified organism) bill, known as the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama this past summer is more the latter than the former. The new law has left supplement makers and the USDA scratching their heads. The law requires supplement makers to “disclose in plain English the presence of GMOs on the package; or instead of plain English, manufacturers can opt for a toll-free number or a digital QR code on the label that consumers with smart phones can scan to find GMO disclosure information on a manufacturer’s website.”

In instances that the ingredients aren’t plainly indicated on the bottles, are toll-free phone numbers and QR codes (accessed through a smart phone) really that consumer friendly though? What about individuals without smart phones or even mobile phones in general? Statistics show that while nearly 90 percent of the U.S. population has a cell phone, only 68 percent has a smart phone. Technology isn’t the only concern, there’s also the issue of consumers being able to tell the difference of “whether ingredients were made from GMO crops, not just whether or not there is GMO protein or DNA in the finished product.”

Supplement makers and the USDA aren’t the only ones unhappy with the law. Loren Israelsen, the president of consumer advocate group United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA) is quoted as saying “we had hoped to see a different kind of law than what Congress just passed on the view that consumers are clearly asking for more information about the foods they eat…” Unfortunately, Mr. Israelsen and UNPA believe we’re still at least five years away from seeing any real changes, and as he noted that’s “not counting any litigation.” Let’s hope for the USDA, supplement manufacturers, and our sake that Mr. Israelsen is wrong.

To learn more about the concerns over the new federal GMO labeling law, click here: