USDA Labels for GMO-Free Food Products Are On the Way

It is the first time that the government will regulate the labeling of GMO-free foods

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Until now, GMO-free labeling has only been done through a private nonprofit called the Non-GMO Project. 

The United States Department of Agriculture has developed a federal certification process and label for foods that do not have GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced in an internal letter to USDA employees. The letter was obtained by The Associated Press.

It is the first time that the federal government will attempt to regulate GMO certification, and it will be voluntary, at least for the time being. Companies will have to pay for the certification process and, if approved, the foods will carry a “USDA Process Verified” label along with an explanation that the product is GMO-free.

The certification is being created through the Agriculture Marketing Service, which helps companies verify the accuracy of the labels put on food packages — “antibiotic-free” and “humanely raised,” for example.

“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 letter. “AMS worked with the company to develop testing and verification processes to verify the non-GE claim.”

According to Vilack, a number of other food companies “are already lining up to take advantage of this service.”

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