• Unconventional Ag

GMO Free Foods Get New USDA Certification

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has created new government certification and labeling for non-genetically modified (GM) foods.

In a letter to USDA employees dated May 1, U.S. Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack outlined the new program. Currently, U.S. companies can place their own GMO-free label on foods, with many using labels developed by the non-profit called the Non-GMO Project, but there is no existing government-backed certification.

The initiative comes as consumer groups increasingly push for such labeling and the USDA reports is in response to a request from an unnamed industry leader.

"Recently, a leading global company asked AMS to help verify that the corn and soybeans it uses in its products are not genetically engineered so that the company could label the products as such," Vilsack wrote in the May 1 letter. "AMS worked with the company to develop testing and verification processes to verify the non-GE claim."

The certification, which is being created through the department’s Agriculture Marketing Service, will be voluntary and will have to be paid for by companies. The department will work with interested companies to verify the company’s claims, and if approved, the food will be able to carry a “USDA Process Verified” label along with the claim that it is GMO free.

Some consumer groups are still pushing for mandatory labeling, saying that the move by the USDA is a sign of the government’s support for their cause, however, the U.S. government says that GMO’s on the market are safe, and mandatory labeling is uncalled for.

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