Recall that GMO labeling advocates were handed a defeat with the passage of the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. It is a “labeling” law by only the slimmest definition: food companies must disclose GMO ingredients, but the consumer disclosure can take the form of a scannable QR or other electronic code on the food’s packaging.
The law stipulated that the USDA study the challenges of using such codes. What the study (conducted by giant government contractor Deloitte) found is of little surprise.
Significant deficiencies were identified in a GMO labeling system that relies heavily on QR codes to tell consumers about the contents of food. When consumers were observed trying to access the GMO disclosure, “researchers observed key technological challenges that prevented nearly all participants from obtaining the information through electronic or digital disclosure methods.” As we argued before the law passed, this was always just a ploy to enable Big Food to keep consumers from easily accessing the information they want about the food they buy.
The report provided to USDA also slights Americans’ understanding of GMOs. Quoting directly: “Though many consumers care about the issue of bioengineered food, there is limited understanding of the issue…This limited familiarity may result in soft opinions that are more likely to change over time and be sensitive to question wording. With implementation of the Law, consumer attitudes may shift as information about bioengineered food becomes more readily available.”
Translation: many Americans don’t buy the propaganda, repeated throughout the report, that “bioengineered foods are neither more nor less safe than non-bioengineered alternatives”—an assertion that is not borne out by the facts.
But don’t worry. The study recommends that a consumer education campaign be conducted to straighten us out about GMOs and QR codes. Somewhere, George Orwell is chuckling to himself.
Action Alert! Write to your elected officials and tell them that the new USDA report demonstrates that we need a GMO labeling bill that actually works. Please send your message immediately.