Washington, D.C.—The Non-GMO Project Verified label, which has become more pervasive in recent months, has been approved for meat and liquid egg products by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It becomes the first non-genetically modified organism (non-GMO) label claim to be approved by USDA.
No livestock animals are currently genetically modified, but the feed they are given can be, so this label provides assurance to consumers that only non-GMO feed was used. The new label is slightly reformatted from the Non-GMO Project Verified label used on other foods, and also explains to consumers, with supplemental text on the product label, how animal products meet the Non-GMO Project standard. “Meat and eggs cannot be tested themselves for GMOs—that’s why we test the animal feed. The supplemental language will help clarify that,” said Megan Westgate, executive director of the Non-GMO Project.
The growing number of regular food items that carry the Non-GMO Project Verified label are not under the jurisdiction of USDA, and so the label did not need premarket approval like it did for meat and egg products. The approval is the result of a year-long effort by the Non-GMO Project, including meetings with legislators and other stakeholders. Now, the group is setting its sights on a label for alcohol products, which are regulated by the Tax and Trade Bureau.
In other GMO-labeling news, Maine passed a bill in early June that would require genetically engineered food and seed stock sold in the state to be labeled. This followed after Connecticut passed a similar bill that also would require GMO labeling, but only after several other nearby states do the same. Maine’s bill has this same stipulation. Among many other states considering such legislation, Vermont is set to take the issue up next year, and it could prove to be the final cog allowing these Northeastern states to require GMO labeling.
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, August 2013