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‘Bioengineered Foods’ Replaces GMO in New U.S. Food Labeling Rules

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Originally published in Green Child Magazine The USDA’s updated labeling for genetically modified foods went into effect Jan. 1. Here’s what you need to know about bioengineered foods and how to identify them.

While 26 countries have banned genetically modified foods, it’s been an ongoing battle in the U.S. just to get them labeled. Congress passed a law in 2016 to establish a national benchmark for GMO labeling with the goal of standardizing labels and offering more transparency to consumers. However, food advocates say this change puts a greater burden on consumers to do their homework to understand the labels.

Foods that previously were labeled (or they may not have been labeled at all because we didn’t have a law about it before) as containing “genetically engineered” (GE) ingredients or “genetically modified organisms” (GMOs) will now be labeled as “bioengineered,”(BE) or come with a phone number or QR code guiding consumers to more information online. (source)

Under the new standard, when foods are labeled as bioengineered foods, you could possibly see one of these two seals.

They can include text on food packages that says “bioengineered food” or “contains a bioengineered food ingredient.”

Or they can include a QR code for consumers to scan or a phone number for them to text that will provide more information about that food item.

Clear enough?

According to the new labeling rules, what are bioengineered foods?

Under the new rule a “bioengineered food” is a “food that contains genetic material that has been modified through in vitro recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (rDNA) techniques and for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature”.

So, if there’s no “BE” label or QR code, is the food free from genetically modified ingredients?

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