Washington, D.C. Dec. 20, 2018– Today the USDA released a final rule governing the consumer labeling of genetically engineered (GMO) foods. In response, Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter issued the following statement:

This deceptive rule will keep people in the dark about what they’re eating and feeding their families. It is meant to confuse consumers, not inform them. This deception is a tool being utilized to maximize corporate profits, plain and simple.

This rule is filled with loopholes that will allow manufacturers to use digital codes and other technology that make GMO disclosure more difficult for consumers than simple on-package labels. Many people don’t have access to smartphones needed to scan QR codes, or access to a good signal while shopping.

The rule refers to GMOs as ‘bioengineered,’ or BE foods. This is a deceptive strategy because most consumers don’t know what that means. The symbol that rule allows manufactures to use in their disclosure suggest to consumers the product is natural and sustainable, when genetically engineered foods are anything but. And the rule’s definitions of what triggers labeling are far too limited.

Consumers are more interested in ever in knowing how their food was produced, but this rule is a big step backwards from commonsense, transparent GMO labeling measures that some states were already adopting before Congress did the bidding of the biotechnology and processed food industries by preempting state laws on labeling.”