US Centre for Food Safety challenges GMO in court to shield consumers and the earth from harmful agriculture

US Centre for Food Safety challenges GMO in court to shield consumers and the earth from harmful agriculture


Centre for Food Safety (CFS) and a coalition of food labelling non-profits and retailers filed an appeal earlier this month with the 9thCircuit Court of Appeals, challenging a previous ruling that allows the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to continue using the misleading terminology “bioengineered” and avoid labelling the majority of genetically engineered (GMO) foods.

In the lower court case, CFS argued that USDA must label all GMO foods, refined or not, using terminology that consumers understand, such as “GE” or “GMO.”

CFS argued that the labels must appear on the package itself, without requiring consumers to scan a QR code or text a phone number for each food they purchase.

The district court held that the USDA’s decision to allow GMO foods to only be labelled with a “QR” code was unlawful and that USDA must instead add disclosure options to those foods under USDA’s National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard.

However, the court sided with USDA on several other challenges brought by the plaintiffs, upholding USDA’s use of the new, unfamiliar terminology, “bioengineered,” and disallowing the terms “GE” or “GMO.”

The court also ruled that USDA may continue excluding “highly refined” products, such as oils and some processed foods, from mandatory disclosure unless the GE material is “detectable” by a manufacturer’s chosen testing method.

“By allowing USDA to exclude highly refined foods from the mandatory scope of disclosure, the lower court’s ruling allows food manufacturers to continue concealing the truth from consumers about how their foods are produced,” said Meredith Stevenson, staff attorney at CFS and counsel for appellants.

“Most consumers want to know if their foods are produced using GMOs, based on reasons including health and the impact of GMOs on soils and the environment.”

CFS originally filed the case in July 2020, challenging USDA’s 2018 final rules for GMO labeling. Those rules were designed to implement a 2016 federal law that for the first time required the labeling of GE foods.

Congress passed the law after several states (Vermont, Connecticut and Maine) passed GE labelling laws, with other states poised to follow suit. The rules required food manufacturers to begin labeling in January 2022.

“We are committed to fighting for a transparent food system,” said Tara Cook-Littman of Citizens for GMO Labeling.

“The American people are clear about their desire to have GMO labeling. Currently, the law as it stands, will not provide consumers with the clear information they deserve and so we must appeal on their behalf.”

The appellants in the case are a coalition of non-profits and retailers, including Natural Grocers, Puget Consumers Co-op, Good Earth Natural Foods, Citizens for GMO Labeling, Labels GMOs, Rural Vermont, National Organic Coalition and Centre for Food Safety.

Centre for Food Safety’s mission is to empower people, support farmers and protect the earth from the harmful impacts of industrial agriculture.

  • The Defender /Centre for Food Safety report
About author

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *