After forcing some companies to change their labels over complaints of the Non-GMO Project Verified seal, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) now says the “butterfly” label does not imply a non-GMO claim.
The regulatory enforcement change came last year, after complaints poured in from across the country regarding products that featured the Non-GMO Project Verified label, but didn’t meet the Canadian definition of a genetically modified organism (GMO). Some complaints were also filed when the label appeared on products where there are no genetically modified or engineered options on the market.
It all comes down to a national standard in Canada that says if there aren’t genetically-engineered varieties available for a product’s ingredient(s), you can’t label it as non-GMO without a descriptor. For example, since there are no GMO oranges on the market, a non-GMO claim would have to state something along the lines of “like all oranges, these oranges are not a product of genetic engineering.”
University of Waterloo microbiologist and professor Trevor Charles made the original complaint against the company for the grape tomatoes label. He says the company’s claims are false and the label is just a marketing tactic. “The CFIA should have an issue with this label,” Charles says. “The marketers want to differentiate themselves when there is no difference at all.”
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