Two leading trade associations representing the natural products and dietary supplements sectors have clarified their stance on GMO labeling this week, with the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) favoring voluntary disclosure of the absence of GMOs, and the Natural Products Association (NPA) endorsing a federal bill requiring mandatory disclosure of GMOs on labels.
"AHPA's members have diverse views when it comes to labeling products to disclose genetically engineered ingredients," said president Michael McGuffin.
"The AHPA board's action signals support for the broadly expressed consumer interest in making informed purchase decisions when it comes to GE/GMO foods, while recognizing a 'voluntary disclosure of absence' approach as the best regulatory option to accomplish this."
He added: "It is possible that a voluntary program that motivates manufacturers to comply will provide more and better information to consumers than one based primarily on the promises of ingredient suppliers," he said.
NPA: Federal GMO labeling bill will lead the country on the path toward transparency that Americans are demanding
The NPA, meanwhile, is backing a proposed federal GMO labeling bill - the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, which was introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., in April.
CEO John Shaw said: “We feel strongly that this bill is in line with our guiding principles on GMO labeling, and that it will lead the country on the path toward transparency that Americans are demanding.”
FDA: There's no 'material' difference in their safety or nutritional value vs conventional counterparts that would warrant labeling
The FDA's historical position - outlined in a guidance document you can read here - is that labeling is not required on foods containing ingredients from bio-engineered crops because there is no 'material' difference in their safety or nutritional value vs conventional counterparts.
However, all eyes are now on the agency to see if it will make a fresh determination on this issue at the request of the judge in a high-profile class action lawsuit over 'all-natural' claims on tortilla chips containing ingredients from GM corn. (Click here for details of the case: Cox v. Gruma Corporation.)
In her July 11 ruling, judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers stayed the case for six months, adding: “The court hereby refers to the FDA, for an administrative determination, the question of whether and under what circumstances food products containing ingredients produced using bio-engineered seed may or may not be labeled ‘Natural’ or ‘All Natural’ or ‘100% Natural’.”