On July 29, 2016 Congress passed the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (Pub. L. 114-216) – a law amending the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to require the Secretary of Agriculture establish a mandatory, national disclosure standard for GMO foods. Under the law, food manufacturers will be required to disclose the presence of GMOs in their food using either on-package text, a USDA-regulated symbol or an electronic or digital link (e.g. QR code), pursuant to rules. By law, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is required to have the final rules in place by July 2018.

Currently USDA is working on a draft set of rules that will be released for public comment sometime in the fall of 2017. As we know, there were many questions left unanswered in the legislation that USDA will have to answer, ranging from what the definition of a GMO should be to what to do about consumers who don’t have Smartphones. USDA has not formally opened a comment period but they have listed a number of questions on their website and are asking for input. Click here to see USDA’s questions.

JLI has formally responded to each of these questions. Click here to see JLI’s response.

Comments submitted by JLI Partners:

Consumers Union

National Organic Coalition

Organic Trade Association

Letters to USDA:

U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Senate

Food Companies


Some of the key issues Just Label It is most concerned about are:

  • Definition of a GMO: This seems obvious, but Big Food thinks it can pressure the USDA into excluding certain ingredients derived from GMO crops from the department’s definition of GMOs such as refined sugars and oils, and foods with ingredients derived from all forms of genetic engineering like like CRISPR and RNAi. JLI believes ALL GMO ingredients should be labeled.
  • Ingredient-by-Ingredient Disclosure: Consumers have a right to know exactly what they’re eating, which means they need to know which ingredients are derived from GMOs.
  • QR Codes: Consumers deserve clear GMO labels, not misleading high-tech gimmicks. Since the legislation allows QR codes, the USDA must ensure consumers without smartphones or cell service have access to the same information by placing scanners in every grocery store aisle.
  • Deadline: Consumers have waited long enough for a GMO labeling standard – we must make sure the USDA sticks to its two-year timeline and has the final rules drafted by July 2018.

TAKE ACTION NOW! Americans need to tell the USDA what they want from a new GMO disclosure.

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