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USDA Is Facing a Legal Challenge Over Its New GMO Labeling Standards

Advocates for clear labeling of genetically modified ingredients say the agency’s required language is confusing to consumers.

In July of 2020, nonprofit advocacy organization Center for Food Safety (CFS), along with co-plaintiffs that include several natural grocers, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Agriculture (USDA). At the center of the suit was Public Law 114-216, better known to those who follow food policy legislation as the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. It was signed by President Obama in 2016, to identify for consumers, through clear labeling language, which foods on grocery shelves contained genetically engineered (GE) or genetically modified (GMO) ingredients. Lawyers for CFS, who filed their opening brief in the case at the tail end of November 2021, contend that the law’s rules, as they’ve since been written by USDA, do anything but—in large part because they mandate the use of the word “bioengineered” and prohibit the better-understood and -recognized terms GE and GMO, which they say will confuse consumers.