The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not require mandatory labeling for GMO ingredients in foods unless the resulting food product is changed or different in some way from its non-GMO counterpart. For example if the food is changed nutritionally or if an allergen is newly present these changes must be indicated on the label. The rationale for this labeling policy is two-fold:
- GMO ingredients have been deemed the same as their conventional counterparts by the FDA based on input from leading regulatory and science bodies that have evaluated GMO ingredients.
- U.S. labeling policies are and have always been based on the nutrition or safety of the food rather than how the food is grown or produced. Since ingredients derived from plants that were genetically modified are safe and not nutritionally different, there is no reason to label.
Food companies are able to voluntarily label their products as containing GMOs or are free of GMOs if it is true and verifiable. Also, under the organic standards regulations, GMO ingredients are not allowed to be used if a product makes an organic claim. Consumers must be aware that not all products labeled GMO-free are necessarily organic but all products labeled organic are in fact GMO-free.