The Agriculture Department has developed the first government certification and labeling for foods that are free of genetically modified ingredients.
USDA’s move comes as some consumer groups push for mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
Certification would be voluntary — and companies would have to pay for it. If approved, the foods would be able to carry a “USDA Process Verified” label along with a claim that they are free of GMOs.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack outlined the department’s plan in a May 1 letter to employees, saying the certification was being done at the request of a “leading global company,” which he did not identify.
Right now, there are no government labels that certify a food as GMO-free. Many companies use a private label developed by a nonprofit called the Non-GMO Project.
Vilsack said the USDA certification is being created through the department’s Agriculture Marketing Service. If approved companies can market the foods with the USDA label.
“Recently, a leading global company asked AMS to help verify that the corn and soybeans it uses in its products are not genetically engineered so that the company could label the products as such,” Vilsack wrote in the letter. “AMS worked with the company to develop testing and verification processes to verify the non-GE claim.”
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