Providing consumers with safe food products is the number one priority of confectionery companies. We understand that some consumers have questions about genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, which are also sometimes referred to as genetically engineered crops or foods. The U.S. government refers to this technology as bioengineering.
Bioengineering is a process that incorporates certain desirable traits from nature into crops, resulting in plants that can be healthier, more nutritious and better for the environment. There are many benefits of this agricultural technology, including helping farmers reduce their environmental footprint by decreasing the amounts of water and pesticides they use, and making food more affordable which helps alleviate hunger and malnutrition around the world.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the National Academy of Sciences, and other leading health agencies and scientific organizations around the world have found that bioengineered food ingredients are safe and that there are no negative health effects associated with consuming them. Bioengineered crops have been widely adopted by farmers in the U.S. and around the world over the past 20 years. The most widely grown BE crops in the U.S. are corn, soybeans, canola and sugar beets. More than 90 percent of these four crops grown in America currently come from bioengineered seeds. Corn, soybeans and sugar beets, as well as ingredients derived from these crops, are used to make confectionery and are often made from bioengineered seeds.
The confectionery industry is committed to transparency and to providing consumers accurate information to help them make informed choices about the treats they enjoy. In 2016, the industry advocated for the creation of a federal standard for disclosure of ingredients derived from bioengineered crops, which was passed by Congress that same year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service completed and released the final National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) on December 20, 2018.
The NBFDS defines bioengineered foods as those that contain detectable genetic material that has been modified through certain lab techniques and cannot be created through conventional breeding or found in nature.
The effective date of the NBFDS was January 1, 2020, except for small food manufacturers, whose implementation date is January 1, 2021. The mandatory compliance date set by USDA is January 1, 2022. Regulated entities may voluntarily comply with the NBFDS until December 31, 2021.
Updates are available on USDA’s website; the public is encouraged to provide their input on this process.
We will continue to engage in an informative dialogue with regulators and consumers so that they understand the safety, prevalence and benefits of bioengineering.