(Washington, D.C.) The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to require disclosure of refined ingredients derived from bioengineered crops in food and beverage products in regulations for the federal labeling law.
“Our member companies have an unwavering commitment to meeting consumer demands for more information about the food and beverage products they purchase and consume,” said Dr. Leon Bruner, GMA’s chief science officer. “Consumers expect to know if a product contains an ingredient that was sourced from a bioengineered crop, so it is essential that disclosure of this information be required under a final rule for the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard.”
“Food and beverage manufacturers have a unique role and perspective as the most consumer-facing portion of the product supply chain, and their products are held to a high standard by consumers,” stated GMA in its written comments on USDA’s proposed rule. “If consumers do not believe that they are getting the transparency and ingredient information they demand, the repercussions will be felt most directly by the companies that make their food and beverage products.”
GMA also stressed in its comments that USDA’s decision on whether to require the disclosure of refined ingredients derived from bioengineered crops will have a significant impact on the number of products that would be disclosed under the eventual final rule.
Roughly 90 percent of the U.S. corn, soybean, and beet sugar crops are bioengineered. As a result, a substantial number of food and beverage products contain refined ingredients that come from these products. GMA estimates that excluding refined ingredients from the scope of the mandatory disclosure standard would result in 78 percent fewer products being disclosed under the federal law.
“Our ability to provide consumers with the information they seek – and in a way that they understand – will build trust in brands, industry and government institutions,” GMA said in its comments. “The ease with which the final regulations enable full disclosure of information to consumers will either support or diminish our ability to engage in a dialogue with consumers about technologies that improve lives, society and the environment.”
GMA also said that disclosure to consumers should occur when the cumulative weight of bioengineered ingredients exceeds 0.9% of a finished food product. This will provide consumers with a standard that is transparent while acknowledging that similar allowances for very small amounts of bioengineered ingredients are made in the U.S. for products certified as non-GMO.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is the trade organization representing the world’s leading food, beverage and consumer products companies and associated partners. The U.S. food, beverage and consumer packaged goods industry plays a unique role as the single largest U.S. manufacturing employment sector, with 2.1 million jobs in 30,000 communities across the country that deliver products vital to the wellbeing of people in our nation and around world. Founded in 1908, GMA has a primary focus on product safety, science-based public policies and industry initiatives that seek to empower people with the tools and information they need to make informed choices and lead healthier lives. For more information, visit gmaonline.org.