GMO Labels

The Lempert Report
March 01, 2023

About a year ago GMO food labeling was passed by USDA. They required it. What's going on with it? Or I haven't heard anything about it or people paying attention to it. Has it affected the sales of GMO products? What's going on? 

Sally: Yes. It's really interesting, Phil, because, years ago, when we were covering GMOs, it seemed to be a very hot topic among consumers, and now you see very little about it. But since the law has been passed that these products that contain GMOs have to be labeled, was at first voluntary and then last year it became mandatory. There has been a little bit of confusion on this. Now, for starters, the word GMO is not used in the label. Bio-engineered is the word that is used. And some people feel that are people that are critics of this feel like that's really not painting the full picture for people. Now, there are 13 products that are considered GMO. If you Google GMO agriculture, you can find that list. But one of the main things on there that is oftentimes in foods that we eat is corn. And we find this in high fructose corn syrup. Now, the problem here is that this corn is processed so much when making these products, that it's essentially stripped of its DNA. So these companies can get around labeling it as bio-engineered because it is no longer a bio-engineered product once it has been through this process. 

Phil: Yeah. And, you bring up corn, but corn, canola, soybeans, and sugar beets, most of those are being used as ingredients. And most of the crops that are grown are GMOs. It's amazing to me. And if you look at products that have this declaration on it, it's in tiny type on the back of the label. And if in fact we want to affect change and really have this clear and concise messaging as we talked about with sustainability, it should be right up front. Having said that, even with this labeling, we haven't seen a difference in sales of GMO products. And also a few years ago, if you remember, we did a report Brazil put in a GMO labeling, with a big symbol on the front of the package, and it didn't affect sales whatsoever. So I think you've got a good amount of the population that frankly, doesn't care if they have GMO's or not. And as long as the brands are disclosing it properly and completely, then make your choice at the supermarket.