In a recent Q&A with Food Safety Tech, James Cook, Food Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Manager at SGS, briefly discusses the challenges and misconceptions surrounding GMOs and labeling.
Food Safety Tech: What are the biggest challenges food companies face in communicating that their products are GMO-free?
James Cook: The biggest challenge for a company is to determine what words or phrases can be used concerning the regulations and/or laws of country that the product will be received into. Companies want to use GMO free, a terminology recognized by consumers, which is actually prohibited in certain locations such as the European Union (EU), and discouraged by the FDA.
FST: How has public (consumer) awareness of this issue complicated matters?
Cook: There is a diverse difference in dealing with the consumers in the EU that have a clear knowledge and unfortunately outrage to GMOs, and the consumers from the United States, where some have no idea what GMOs are.
FST: Are there misconceptions among consumers that present additional challenges to food companies?
Cook: The biggest misconceptions are: Everything created by humankind is evil, food crops have never changed, and the government and the industry are lying. Another misconception is that in the future, we will have enough food to feed the world population, without making significant changes in the way we produce food.
FST: What are the most critical developments regarding state and federal labeling laws that we need to know about?
Cook: At this time, the Vermont law is the only breakthrough for the requirement [of] GMO labeling in the United States. If some non-government organization obtains passage of their bill through U.S Congress then this law will not come into effect. If this law becomes effective, we will have many states issuing and passing a similar law, as their consumers will want to know why this is required in Vermont but not in their states.
|On April 16 Cook will be offering more insight on the topic during a GMO Labeling webinar. Register for the webinar now.
FST: Where do you see the GMO issue headed over the next year or so?
Cook: We will have some sort of GMO labeling law in the United States. Whether this law only affects one state or all of the U.S. is still unknown. Even if this is not solved, more locations in the United States will continue to ban the growing of GMO crops. Eventually these bans will make it into the courts, because you are dictating to a farmer what crops they can grow and sell.
FST: What key questions will you address during the GMO Labeling webinar?
Cook: What does my company need to do in order to verify to a Non-GMO program?
Does one have to review the entire supply chain in order to prove the product is GMO free?
Why isn’t GMO product just labeled as such in the USA?
Why the vast difference of GMO policies between EU and USA?
|Related Content: Expanding GMO Labeling Requirements in the U.S.