Nowadays, people have become keener when it comes to knowing the provenance of their food. As a result, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) created a new distinction for foods bioengineered in laboratories, particularly those treated with biochemical reagents to make them more tolerant of extreme growing conditions and keep pests at bay.
The Bioengineered label was put in place as a more accurate categorization of foods altered in-vitro or through genetic procedures to achieve a state of resilience that cannot be achieved under natural conditions or environmental settings.
While not meant to replace GMO, the existing label for genetically-modified organisms, the new label is only meant to mark foods produced on a mass or commercial level. It will not apply to foods sold by small artisan enterprises and restaurants or replace previous label regulations for meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
In This Context, What Does Bioengineered Mean for Consumers?
Originally, the Non-GMO label was the quickest way shoppers could avoid foods that were treated to withstand certain pesticides like Monsanto’s weed killer Roundup or were exposed to other chemicals that posed a real danger to human health.
However, some companies that make food products out of genetically modified crops cried foul, stating that their ingredients were food-safe and environmentally sound. Unfortunately, these were lumped together with chemically-treated foods that did not undergo genetic alteration in labs.
Under the new labeling scheme, companies now have to disclose which of their products contain bioengineered ingredients – yet this still feels like an area of confusion for manufacturers and consumers alike.
Food Experts to Public: Educate Yourselves!
Many food experts and GMO specialists feel that consumers have a responsibility to look into the provenance of the foods they buy at stores and markets.
In which case, many people actually appreciate the fact that some food labels feature a QR code, website, or a contact number that gives them the ability to delve deeper into the ingredients involved in producing their staples and favorites.
In fact, under the new labeling scheme, foods marked as Bioengineered are required to carry a QR code or contact number to allow consumers to look up additional information.
However, the new label still won’t apply to all foods. In addition, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that exceptions would be made for smaller companies who find it a challenge to comply with the new labeling scheme.
Nevertheless, food experts are calling on both the FDA and the USDA for more clarity regarding the Bioengineered label, stating bluntly that, for consumers, it remains deeply confusing.