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With its New GMO-Labeling Rule, the USDA Has Completely Failed the American Consumer

Based on what we have seen from the current administration’s USDA — the scrapping of the organic animal welfare rules, allowing hydroponics in organic even though it is a complete violation of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, and turning a blind eye to ‘organic factory farms’ – should anyone be the least bit surprised that the recently released GMO-labeling rules completely fail the American consumer?

Officially announced right before Christmas, key aspects of the new GMO-labeling rules – also known as the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard – include the following:

– Instead of requiring companies to use the on-package labels “Made with GMOs” or “Made with Genetic Engineering”, which would make it easy for consumers, the USDA has done the polar opposite.

Not only are companies not required to use on-package labels, but they can use QR codes instead. As the Center for Food Safety has long argued, QR codes are inherently discriminatory to the elderly, poor, rural and minorities.

And if companies do use an on-package label, it must use the phrase “bioengineered food,” a term not commonly used or understood by consumers.

-Many GMO foods were exempted from the disclosure rules, including highly refined oils and many soft drinks, on the grounds that they don’t contain detectable DNA. Consumers want to know if ingredients are from GMO-sources, regardless of the DNA detectability.

What makes this specific exemption even more ridiculous is that the Grocery Manufacturers Association (the lobbying group which represents Big Food) argued that these refined oils and ingredients should be disclosed “in order to give consumers the transparency that they demand.”

The Sustainable Food Policy Alliance – comprised of Mars, Danone, Unilever and Nestle– criticized this exemption as well and said that “the standards fall short of consumer expectations.”

– If an on-package symbol is to be used, it must be the symbol below.

The yellow sun, blue sky and green grass will mislead consumers into thinking that bioengineered food is healthy — when it is not!

– The GMO-labeling rules do not have to go into effect until 2022, which keeps consumers in the dark for another few more years.

– The law allows USDA certified organic products to use the claim “Non-GMO”.

As I wrote about it 2016, this is incredibly problematic. Why?

If organic products are found to have very high levels of GMO-contamination and these products contain the label “Non-GMO” on the outside of the packaging (now allowed because of this new GMO-labeling rule), this may cause irreparable harm to the integrity of the organic seal.

IN CONCLUSION

Without question, these GMO-labeling rules have prioritized the interests of major GMO seed and chemical companies at the complete expense of shoppers.

Leading consumer advocates agree.

Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety, said, “The USDA has betrayed the public trust by denying Americans the right to know how their food is produced. Instead of providing clarity and transparency, they have created large-scale confusion and uncertainty for consumers, food producers, and retailers.”

“The USDA’s new disclosure rule will likely keep many consumers in the dark about whether the food they buy has been genetically engineered,” said Michael Hansen, PhD, Senior Staff Scientist at Consumer Reports. “The overwhelming majority of consumers want genetically engineered food to be clearly labeled, but this rule fails to give consumers the information they deserve.”

What to do?

Look for USDA certified organic foods first and then look for products that contain the Non-GMO Project seal.

In the case of GMO-labeling, there is no other way to put it — our government has failed the American consumer. As a result, every citizen must take extra precaution to make sure that the food that he or she is eating is not genetically-modified.

A message from Tradin Organic

How Tradin Organic is Helping Coconut Farmers in The Philippines

For more than a decade, Tradin Organic has been working with local partners in The Philippines to bring a diversified range of organic products to the market, such as coconut oil, tropical fruits and even cocoa.

The company is helping to support local farmers by assisting them with technical support and organic certification, in addition to paying Fairtrade premium on top of the organic premium.

Learn more.

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Living Maxwell

Company Stories

Food Chains is a MUST-SEE Movie

When people talk about why they eat organic food, the most common answer is that they don’t want to ingest food that has been sprayed with toxic pesticides. The focus is generally on “me” or “we”.

An answer that does not come up nearly as much as it should is “I don’t want to expose farmers to these toxic pesticides.”

The truth is that most of us are completely in the dark about what takes place on farms, in terms of what kind of chemicals farmers are exposed to and also how farm workers are treated.

A brand new documentary called Food Chains sheds light on this very serious problem and what we see is not pretty.

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A message from Tradin Organic

Why Tradin Organic is Prioritizing Regenerative Organic Farming

At Tradin Organic, we believe that regenerative organic farming is key to growing healthy and nutritious food ingredients — for now and for future generations.

And in Sierra Leone, we have grown the world’s first Regenerative Organic Certified cacao.

Learn more.

Living Maxwell

Company Stories

Whole Planet Foundation is Transforming Lives in Costa Rica

Last week in Costa Rica, I visited with some women entrepreneurs who are receiving microloans from the Whole Planet Foundation, a non-profit organization of Whole Foods.

I have written about the Whole Planet Foundation before and the amazing job that it is doing around the world but meeting the loan recipients in-person gave me a much greater appreciation for the impact that this program is having.

Women entrepreneurs from impoverished communities receive loans, starting at a few hundred dollars, to start businesses – baking, sewing, buying animals, running a small store, etc. With a 98% success rate (only 2% of the loans default), this incremental revenue plays an essential role in improving the well-being and welfare of thousands of families.

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Living Maxwell

Company Stories

Trailblazing Marketing and Communcations Firm Christie & Co. Celebrates its 30th Anniversary

(The brain trust of Christie & Co — from l. to r., Alissa Sears, vice president of strategy & navigation; Gillian Christie, founder/CEO)

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When people think of the pioneers in the natural products industry, the founders of iconic CPG brands often come to mind.

However, what cannot be forgotten is that a select number of very savvy people were working behind the scenes to popularize these companies, in the media and with consumers, through storytelling. And without them, the success of the organic food sector would not be where it is today.

One such individual is Gillian Christie, the founder/CEO of Christie & Co., a marketing and communications firm based in Santa Barbara, CA. Along with her daughter Alissa Sears, vice president of strategy & navigation, Gillian leads this full-service agency, which has just celebrated its 30th anniversary.

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