Non-GMO Defined: What You Get and What You Don’t

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Due to recent comments on Facebook that stated that a product is suddenly safe because it is labelled non-GMO is the reason I am writing this article, today. I want to bring awareness of the true meaning of non-GMO and what it includes and what it doesn’t.Non-GMO: What you get and what you don't

 

When a food product states “non-GMO” it means that the food or its ingredients, as appropriate, was not developed using bioengineering.1

This also means that:

  • the manufacturer did not use ingredients that were produced using biotechnology;
  • the ingredient(s) were not genetically engineered; or
  • the manufacturer’s growers did not plant seeds developed using biotechnology.

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Per the FDA,

A statement that a food was not bioengineered or does not contain bioengineered ingredients may be misleading if it implies that the labeled food is superior to foods that are not so labeled. FDA has concluded that the use or absence of use of bioengineering in the production of a food or ingredient does not, in and of itself, mean that there is a material difference in the food. Therefore, a label statement that expresses or implies that a food is superior (e.g., safer or of higher quality) because it is not bioengineered would be misleading. The agency will evaluate the entire label and labeling in determining whether a label statement is in a context that implies that the food is superior.

Example:

Expandex, a modified tapioca starch that’s label reads, “Non-GMO”:

Expandex is never derived of corn or soy, which is often genetically modified. Instead, it is derived from tapioca, which I have never heard of being genetically modified. Therefore, it is highly likely that the product is the same as any other Expandex, and it may still be highly processed with chemicals.

 

Conclusion

Non-GMO does not mean a better or safer product. It is similar to the term “natural” which has lost its meaning in the food industry.

 

 

Reference:

(1) DRAFT Guidance for Industry: Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Foods Have or Have Not Been Developed Using Bioengineering; Draft Guidance

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