Viewpoint: Soon-to-be-required bioengineered food label is ‘in the worst traditions of government meddling’

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Credit: USDA/Canva/NFE
Credit: USDA/Canva/NFE

A very bad regulation is coming. 

Here’s the short of it. In 2016 Congress passed the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law. That law directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture to promulgate regulations for the mandatory labeling of “bioengineered” (or “genetically engineered”) foods for human consumption.

Unfortunately, these regulations are in the worst traditions of government meddling. In its statutory language, Congress explicitly stated that the mandatory disclosure has nothing to do with food safety or consumer health, thus acknowledging what the scientific community and even the Food and Drug Administration has said consistently for thirty years: Bioengineered, or genetically engineered, foods do not pose any unique health, or environmental risks.

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Moreover, precisely because those products do not raise such concerns, Congress did not assign the task of writing regulations to regulators at the FDA or USDA, but rather to the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS), underlining the fact that the exercise is marketing, pure and simple. 

We believe that voluntary disclosures should be the way forward. Congress should revisit the 2016 law and repeal its mandatory disclosure provisions while preempting state laws meant to spread fear and misinformation about bioengineered or genetically engineered foods.

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