There are a lot of labels at the grocery store, including one recent arrival: the new Bioengineered (“BE”) food disclosure. The BE label sprung from the overwhelming public demand for labels on genetically engineered foods — but in practice, the label is confusing. It also fails to identify many common products made with GMOs.

For example, the BE food label opts for unfamiliar language (using the obscure term “bioengineered” instead of “GMO”). The labeling law contains loopholes and exemptions that make it difficult to tell which foods contain GMO ingredients. Plus, the bioengineered food disclosure can take one of several different forms, making it hard for shoppers to recognize. 

What does the BE label leave out? Download this free infographic.

Are you one of the 43%* of North American shoppers who avoid GMOs at the grocery store? If so, you know consumers need clear and consistent labeling to make an informed choice about whether or not to consume GMOs — and unfortunately, the BE label doesn’t provide those things. 

There’s a simple solution! To avoid GMOs, remember the red-yellow-green rule.

Bioengineered (“BE”) Food Disclosure 

Bioengineered food disclosures are part of the new federal labeling law that identifies some — but not all — products made with GMOs (more on that in a moment). 

Red light means stop!

Be aware that products with a BE food disclosure contain ingredients made from GMOs.

For example, products with BE disclosures might include:

  • Prepared foods made with genetically modified ingredients might be* labeled as bioengineered (an estimated 80% of prepared foods contain GMO-derived ingredients). 
  • GMOs made to hide the bumps and bruises of supply chain handling, including pre-cut fries made from potatoes engineered to mask bruising and discoloration or genetically engineered, non-browning apple slices. 
  • Genetically modified fruits such as papayas or novelty pink pineapples retail online for $29-39 each.

That BE “label” can take several forms: There’s the recognizable BE food symbol (pictured left/right); a simple text disclosure (“Made with Bioengineered Food”); or a contact phone number, website or scannable QR code the shopper can access for more food information. 

What You Need to Know About Bioengineered (BE) Food Labeling

*Keep in mind: The BE food label doesn’t appear on all products made with GMOs, which means the absence of a BE disclosure doesn’t necessarily indicate the absence of GMOs. 

Self-made claims

Self-made claims generally appear as added text on a product package claiming “GMO Free!” or “Made Without Genetically Modified Organisms.” 

Yellow light means slow down.

The trouble with self-made claims is they have no evidence to back them up. On the other hand, Non-GMO Project Verified products meet North America’s most rigorous standard for GMO avoidance. Independent, third-party administrators assess verified products to guard against conflicts of interest, while a self-made claim lacks any such guard rails. With a self-made claim, the brand is essentially saying “Trust us!” without offering evidence to support the claim or any transparency into what it means. 

Whether you prefer a rigorous and accountable certification or think a self-made claim is sufficient is, of course, up to you. Either way, the Non-GMO Project supports your right to choose what goes into your shopping cart — and we’ve been protecting the non-GMO food supply for more than 15 years. 

Non-GMO Project Verification mark

Green light means go!

The Non-GMO Project Butterfly lets you know that the product you hold in your hand meets the highest standard forGMOavoidance. The Non-GMO Project Standard requires third-party review of the product, plus ingredient tracing, segregation and/or testing.

The Non-GMO Project is dedicated to clear, consistent labeling and transparent guidelines that shoppers can access at any time, all so that you know exactly what the Butterfly stands for!

Got questions about the Butterfly? Check out our FAQs.

To find more Verified products, you can always search our online product listings.

For more than 15 years, the Non-GMO Project has protected your right to choose whether or not to consume GMOs. With new laws, obscure terms and the next generation of GMOs coming from emerging techniques, we make it easy to make the right choice for you and your family. 

It’s as simple as red, yellow and green.

At the Non-GMO Project, we believe the gold standard for clean food is a joint effort: Non-GMO Project Verified and certified organic. Find out how the two hottest certifications at the grocery store make each other stronger in Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified: A Tale of Two Certifications.

*Source: Organic and Beyond  Ⓒ 2020, The Hartman Group, Inc.

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2 Comments

Adriana

I confused. When I by products that label show is organic, that means is non-GMO too?

Reply
Non-GMO Project Staff

Hello Adriana,

Thank you for reaching out to the Non-GMO Project!

Organic certifications are run directly by the government in Canada and the United States. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency operates the Canada Organic Regime, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service operates the National Organic Program (NOP). These government programs set rules for how animals are raised, how crops are grown, and how pests are treated. The U.S. has a list of prohibited substances; Canada has a list of permitted substances. Neither program allows synthetic pesticides or growth hormones. These programs do not allow GMOs either, but they also do not require ongoing testing for them.

In contrast, Non-GMO Project verification does require ongoing testing, and the Standard itself is continually reviewed and refined as we learn more about GMOs. The Non-GMO Project is an independent, non-profit organization. As a single-issue organization, the Non-GMO Project only evaluates products for GMO avoidance. The Non-GMO Project is designed to honor the NOP’s excellent guidelines for traceability and segregation and build on the work that certified organic companies are already doing, with the added measure of ongoing testing of risk ingredients at critical control points.

To learn more about Non-GMO Project Verification and USDA Organic, please visit our blog, here: Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified: A Tale of Two Certifications and Organic and Non-GMO: The Gold Standard for Food

Warm regards,
Non-GMO Project Staff

Reply

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