Expect a GMO-Friendly Label Coming Soon

Consumers want to know about where their food comes from and what the ingredients are. There are many different labels on our food: gluten-free, dairy-free, nitrate-free, and that’s barely scratching the surface. Over the next couple of years, we’re going to start seeing a new type of label: bioengineered.

“Companies that put out products that contain bioengineered DNA, have to label it as bioengineered,” said Dr. Ron Goldy of MSU Extension.

As of January 1, 2020, it’s voluntary to add the label or a QR code to the product. But on January 1, 2022, manufacturers with sales more than $2.5 million dollars will have to put the label on their products. Dr. Goldy said the need for the label came to clarify some of the labels consumers see.

“[It] removes some confusion as to what things may be or may not be because there is a lot of confusion out there as to what products we are consuming that do contain bioengineered material,” he said. “It’s a combination of things to clarify what’s on that label.”

Will this new “bioengineered” or BE label hurt product sales because of the common misconceptions GMOs are bad? Dr. Goldy doesn’t anticipate it to be negative, but it might further consumer confusion.

“That non-GMO label that’s out there now will probably still continue,” said Dr. Goldy. You may have two different labels out there that says this is a non-GMO product and one that says this is a GMO product,” he said. “It’s really up to the consumer, as it always has been, to read those labels carefully.”

Dr. Goldy said the majority of food we consume isn’t biologically engineered—there are only nine approved GMO crops on the marketplace. He emphasizes that consumers educate themselves and read the labels.