To B.E. Or Not To B.E. – That Is The Question

What is B.E. Or BioEngineered? And What Does It Mean For Our Food?

Over the past 20 years consumers have been waging a war on GMO foods, and winning. I say consumers are winning because the USDA is working on a proposed food labeling rule that is supposed to make things clearer to the public, and easier to understand. But, as you will discover, may only be making things more confusing. The finalized rule, when released, will hopefully be a bit clearer and less confusing than the current proposed rule.

The proposed rule wants to replace current terms GMO, GM, GE, non-GMO, genetically modified and genetically engineered with a new “more nuetral” term BE and bioengineered. This term change is allegedly due to, as some companies who oppose GMO labeling put it, the current terms “unfairly demonize” biotech companies.

Despite the argument that GM/BE foods are safe, as science allegedly hasn’t found proof that it’s any more harmful than conventional food is, there are flaws in the argument:

  1. Are we looking at approved science or true science? There are cases that show how approved science beats true science through cover-ups and ridicule. In most cases, approved science is science that backs pre-determined results and alters results to show the pre-determinations. Approved science is largely bought and paid for.
  2. Has it been long enough, with continual generations, consuming GM/BE foods to accurately determine the safety?
  3. If GM/BE is so safe, why are there Big Food and Big Agriculture companies that are so strongly opposed to labeling their products as GM/BE and allowing consumers to know what’s in our food?

The proposed rule is an attempt to define what a bioengineered food is and when it has to be labeled. Though some commenters suggest, as the rule stands, it covers far less than the current GMO laws. The USDA is hoping to use this rule as a federal guideline to replace the state-by-state patchwork, so hopefully the finalized rule comes closer to current GMO standards. Under the current proposed rule some companies are exempt from labeling, such as small manufacturers and products that only contain some GM/BE ingredients. It’s been stated that under the current proposed rule, only gene-splicing technology (such as CRISPR) is being targeted; which is significantly less coverage than current GMO standards. Under current standards, such as by the Non-GMO Project, any product that has been altered in any way is considered to be GMO; not just gene-splicing.

If that’s not bad enough, look at the proposed logos:

Smiling at me or not, as far as I’m concerned BE is still GMO and I will not purchase BE products.

“I mean, they look like a little smiley face,” says George Kimbrell, the legal director for the Center for Food Safety, which has pushed for labeling. “They’re very pro-biotech, cartoonishly so, and to that extent are, you know, not just imparting information but instead are essentially propaganda for the industry.”

These proposed logos appear friendly and are completely misleading about the biotech industry and how GM/BE foods are produced. Should these logos be viewed as USDA created pro-biotech propaganda?

Aside from these rediculous logos, the USDA is also suggesting use of QR codes on the label instead of a logo. Can you picture yourself scanning every product in the store to see if it’s GM/BE or not? That would take forever!

The reason behind this suggestion? The USDA claims that a study found use of QR codes didn’t stop 85% of consumers from purchasing a GM product. They failed to mention:

  • Most consumers don’t want to be bothered scanning every product just to see if it’s safe or not. Especially in a rush.
  • You need a smartphone to scan such codes. Which most seniors don’t utilize.
  • Most consumers, particularly the elderly, have trouble with QR codes.

Some companies and associations are trying to get their products exempt from this rule on grounds that the finished product, despite being made from GM/BE raw materials, can’t be detected as GM/BE under current testing methods. Which is why third-party verification is important to look for; such as the Non-GMO Project, which tests the raw materials as well.

Many believe, as do I, that if a product is derived from GM/BE raw material, that the finished product is GM/BE; regardless if it can be detected or not in the finished product. You can’t magicly remove GM/BE from a GM/BE product. Though some Big Food companies would you to believe they can.

Under the proposed rule, there are two options for labeling:

  1. The USDA would exempt highly refined products, such as sugars and oils made from GM/BE corn, soybeans, or sugar beets from labeling. Though the USDA has been warned that this would exempt roughly 70% of products from GMO labeling.
  2. The USDA would exempt products that have less than 5% of GM/BE ingredients. The proposed 5% may seem low, but it is significantly higher than the 0.9% standard used in the EU, Russia, and by the Non-GMO Project.

Some companies and consumer groups did urge the USDA to stick with GMO/GE and like terms that are already used on labels, but the USDA chose the term bioengineered used by Congress.

In an effort to allegedly make things clearer, the government is only making things more confusing and appears to be catering to the biotech industry. Perhaps the finalized rule will be better than the current proposed rule. But as it stands, one must suggest that the USDA is actively, willingly, and knowingly complicit in Big Food and Big Agriculture hiding from the public what is in our food.

“The USDA’s proposed loophole-ridden GMO labeling rules are a giveaway to the agribusiness and food industries that want to keep consumers in the dark about what they are eating,” said Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of the consumer group Food & Water Watch.

The final rules are due by July 29, though Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that they probably would not be finalized until the end of the summer.

Along with what appears to be the USDA creating legal loopholes to hide what’s in our food, the FDA is allegedly running a propaganda campaign promoting the biotech industry as safe. And yet people will continue to blindly trust what we’re told by the government, Big Food, and others despite the growing amount of evidence that we are deliberately being misled by those we are told to trust.

Among comments on the proposed rule, are many companies arguing against it; despite the fact that it will not only replace state level laws, but as it stands is more lenient and loose in terms. I highly recommend only purchasing certified organic and third-party non-GMO verified (such as the Non-GMO Project) products. Any and all brands and companies that wish to knowingly and deliberately hide from us what they’re putting in our food don’t deserve our business. I am hoping the finalized rule more closely resembles current GMO standards; but considering the current proposed rule and the alleged FDA propaganda campaign, I’m not going to hold my breath.

What I’m seeing is an industry running scared. Consumers are winning the GMO war. Regardless what the finalized USDA rule looks like, we must continue fighting and pushing back against GMO/BE foods. My opinion is that the current USDA rule and FDA propaganda is a knee-jerk reaction to the government’s, Big Foods, Big Agriculture’s, and BioTechs realization that they are losing the war and they struggling to find a way to win. Their tactic? Lieing to the public via propaganda and legalized deception.

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