In 2013, I investigated and argued for the mandatory labeling of genetically modified food products (read my paper here). I wanted to come back to this subject because almost five years has passed and I’m curious to see the changes that have been made.
Later that year in 2013, Connecticut passed the first bill in the country to require labelling of genetically modified foods on consumer products. While this was monumental, it was not put into practice because of one caveat: the bill required that 4 other states adopt a similar bill, and at least one of those states must border Connecticut. It also requires that these other state populations must exceed 20 million in order for Connecticut to start seeing results.
Next year in 2014, Maine passes a similar bill requiring 5 neighboring states, which must include New Hampshire, to pass similar labeling laws.
In 2015, a poll showed that two thirds of Americans support labeling of genetically modified food on packages.
In June of 2016, Vermont was the third state in the country to regulate genetically modified foods- the state would require foods produced with these ingredients to be labeled as such. This time, there was no stipulation- the law took two years from signing to be rolled out, but in 2016 everything was in place. While Vermont is a small state, this had a national effect. Large food conglomerates did not want to lose business or pay fines under this new Vermont law yet also did not want to produce special labels just for the state, a logistical nightmare, so many decided to change the labels for all the food they sell. In fact, many had already been producing packaging stating genetic modification for their European labels, since the European Union has stricter rules about this that here in the US.
By 2018, Whole Foods will require all genetically modified foods to be labeled within its stores, wanting to give its customers more transparency.
The Non-GMO Project is a nonprofit, which was founded in 2007 by two small grocery stores, has become a name and label that people trust when looking for non-genetically modified ingredients in their packaged food. Through the program, companies and their product can become verified after independent testing and evaluation. While this does not replace the need for products with genetically modified ingredients to be labeled, it is an incredible way to help the consumer when choosing a product.
Sadly, the FDA has not yet made any moves to create a nationally recognized mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods. Luckily, state and other efforts are keeping the ball moving, even if the government is still searching for feedback.