By Kaya Deters

Genetically modified foods have been in our grocery stores for decades, yet some consumers are still not informed on which foods contain genetic modifications. The Agricultural Marketing Service has proposed a rule in which foods that contain GMOs will now be required to be labeled as such.

There is already a trusted seal placed on all-organic food that has been verified by the professional administration of the Non-GMO Project. This seal has been in grocery stores since 2010, used to help consumers become more aware of what they are eating. In America at least 90% of our crops are altered through genetic engineering. Applying the bioengineered label to all products that contain GMO foods will assist us in knowing what we are consuming.

The Agricultural Marketing Service is still deciding on how to label the food. They are determining between a one-sentence declaration such as “This product has been bioengineered,” a barcode, or the more popular option which is a standardized icon. The icon that The Agricultural Department has suggested is a small circle with images of a hill and a sun in the background with the letters “BE,” which stand for bioengineered. Beyond the icon for the label, the USDA is still deciding on if they should apply the label to all genetically engineered products or if the label should exempt foods that are high in refined sugars made from corn and soy.  

Since corn and soy crops account for much of our agriculture, that would excuse up to 70% of products from getting labeled. Michele R., a student at North Eugene High School, stated that “There should be a small [number] of products that do not get labeled because it is obvious that they contain GMOs.” Food and pesticide industries, including Monsanto, have stated that they are in support of the federal legislation. The label is not mandatory yet, so the public still has until July 3rd to comment on the proposed guidelines.