The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed the first government certification and labeling for foods that are free of genetically modified ingredients.
Although anti-GMO advocates have pushed for labels for years, it was a request from a major food-processing company that prompted Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to act.
So far the Canadian government has refused to participate in GMO labeling.
Certification by the USDA would be voluntary — and companies would have to pay for it.
If approved, the foods would be able to carry a "USDA Process Verified" label along with a claim that they are free of GMOs.
Vilsack outlined the department's plan in a May 1 letter to employees, saying the certification was being done at the request of a "leading global company," which he did not identify. A copy of the letter was obtained by The Associated Press.
Until now there have been no government labels that certify a food as GMO-free. Many companies use a private label developed by a nonprofit called the Non-GMO Project.
Vilsack said the USDA certification is being created through the department's Agriculture Marketing Service, which works with interested companies to certify the accuracy of the claims they are making on food packages — think "humanely raised" or "no antibiotics ever."
Companies pay the Agricultural Marketing Service to verify a claim, and if approved they can market the foods with the USDA label.
"Recently, a leading global company asked AMS to help verify that the corn and soybeans it uses in its products are not genetically engineered so that the company could label the products as such," Vilsack wrote in the letter.
"AMS worked with the company to develop testing and verification processes to verify the non-GE claim," he wrote.
This is all a crock. GMO corn and soybeans are no different from non-GMO varieties in terms of nutrition or food safety. Vilsack is as foolish as the anti-GMO zealots. Except maybe the global food company donates to his election campaigns.