In an effort to ensure American consumers can discern if their food includes genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or ingredients derived from GMOs, AHPA recommended significant revisions to a proposed rule issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to establish a mandatory, national bioengineered (BE) food disclosure standard.
"Without significant revisions to the proposed rule, it is very unlikely that Americans will be provided with a reasonably accessible way to know if their food contains genetically modified ingredients," said AHPA President Michael McGuffin. "Because the proposed rule doesn’t provide the information consumers are demanding and contravenes the intent of the GMO labeling law, AHPA requests that AMS consider significant revisions prior to issuing a Final Rule."
In comments submitted to AMS, AHPA recommends:
- Adopting the common or usual terms used to describe bioengineering, i.e., “genetically modified,” “genetically engineered” and “GMO”
- Defining “genetically modified foods” (or similar term) to include all relevant GMO techniques
- Extending the labeling requirement to include refined products and ingredients that are derived from GMO crops
- Providing an exemption for inadvertent or technically unavoidable GMO content at the level (0.9 percent) allowed in most other countries, including the EU
- Revising the design of the proposed BE symbol options to avoid any emotive quality or any implication that GMO content in a food is a benefit or additional value in the food
AHPA first published a member guidance policy in 2003 (most recently updated in 2015) regarding the use of GMO agricultural inputs in herbal products such as dietary supplements and teas. Among other things, this policy encourages voluntary label disclosure of the use of any herbal ingredients that have been knowingly and intentionally cultivated with GMO technologies, or extracts and natural flavors derived from such ingredients, in a manner that assures that consumers are informed that the ingredient (or more precisely, its source crop) was cultivated with GMO technology.
AHPA membership includes companies that grow herbal crops and market herbal products that are certified as organic under USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) and that are therefore subject to controls regarding the introduction of GMO crops and ingredients derived from such crops. Various AHPA members also market herbal products that are labeled as free of GMO crops and ingredients.