USDA Study: 9 Problems Electronic GMO Disclosures Would Face

In July 2016 Congress passed the first national GMO labeling legislation in the U.S. It is set to go into effect in July 2018, but not before the Department of Agriculture writes extensive rules for the legislation, which left many questions unanswered.

One of the most controversial parts of the bill would allow companies to use digital disclosures such as QR codes. Due to the heated debate over digital disclosures, Congress stipulated that the USDA must complete a study to identify any technological challenges consumers might face if companies used a digital disclosure for GMO ingredients instead of on-package labels. Continue reading

The GMO Labeling Discussion is Not Yet Over

It was June 2016 when the law passed requiring foods with GMO ingredients to be labeled. This disclosure was the first of its kind in the U.S., a milestone for food transparency and simultaneously a source of monumental discontent for many. The law requires that manufacturers disclose GMO presence but allows for digital means, such as QR codes or links, as a way to comply with labeling.

The law also mandated a study to identify potential challenges associated with the electronic options. The study found multiple problems related to QR codes or links.

As you read this, USDA is writing the regulations implementing the law, and the first draft will be coming out soon. There’s still time for USDA to hear from you on the study’s findings and craft a comprehensive, user-friendly standard. Continue reading

NOSB Fails to Prohibit Hydroponic and Container Growing in Organic Standards

The NOSB meeting opened with the standard introductions and agency updates. There was a palpable tension as the soil and the soilless camps huddled in separate groups outside. The topic looming large and passionately at this meeting is whether to prohibit various modes of growing outside the soil—organic hydroponics. Continue reading

2017 Fall NOSB Meeting, trick or a treat?

The fall edition of this year’s NOSB meeting will be held in Jacksonville Florida, just in time for a few goblins to come groping for organic candy. We engage in this magic twice a year to give voice to the issues and engage in the rulemaking process in a transparent and diverse manner. We summon up communal consensus with a brew of public comment and a pinch of participation. Will this Halloween NOSB invoke solidarity or discord? I plan to be there to report on all the tricks performed and any special treats offered up. Continue reading

Serving up a Vegan Burger or Genetic Roulette?

Not all plant-based meat alternatives are created equal. For years the vegans among us have chomped down on black bean burgers and seitan chicken balls, alternatively feasting on Tofurky breast and stuffing. Animal rights groups laud the artisanal vegan meatloaf and tempeh bacon as righteous culinary trends. Who doesn’t want to see an end to confined animal feeding operations by voting with your vegan fork? As technological tongue twisters like CRISPR-CAS9 and Synthetic Biology are changing the face of medicine and agriculture, they are also landing directly onto your vegan plate. One of the newest plant-based products is sizzling with gene-editing techniques to create an impossible burger with potential hidden consequences. Continue reading