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SGS Announces Increased Legal Initiatives on GMO Labeling Requirements in the US

On November 4, 2014, the people of Oregon and Colorado voted for mandatory labeling of foods produced from genetically modified organisms (GMO).

Fairfield, NJ, January 13, 2015 --( These initiatives from Maine, Connecticut, Vermont and subsequently Oregon and Colorado, speak of the public’s desire to know what they are eating, a mistrust of the industry and a lack of action from the federal government.

GMO in Food - Federal Government Lack of Action and Industry Mistrust

Currently in the United States there is no federal law that requires the labeling of GMO derived products, providing the product is not significantly different to the non-GMO product or different in use, nutrition or includes an unexpected allergen. However, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has produced voluntary labeling guidance on GMO and Non-GMO ( While many companies have opted to label their products as Non-GMO there hasn’t been the same desire by the industry to label their products as GMO.

Cases of GMO Crops and Growing Consumer Wariness

Unwanted events have caused the public to believe that the industry cannot be trusted and that the government is not doing everything it can to protect the public. One case involved a strain of GMO corn (Starlink) that ended up in the food supply chain, causing the US price of corn to plummet on the world market and dozens of products to be recalled.

Another case involved the development of GMO wheat. This was a product that foreign markets had no desire for. Therefore, after field trials from 2000 to 2003, the company that created the GMO wheat dropped the project despite the US FDA completing its food safety consultation on it in 2004.

In 2013 this strain of GMO wheat was found growing in a field in Oregon. After an extensive review, the United States Department Agriculture (USDA) completed an investigation and concluded that this was the same GMO wheat variety created by the aforementioned company, that it had not come from local field trials and that they were “unable to determine exactly how the GMO wheat came to grow in the farmer’s field.”

Oregon’s Initiative on GMO Labeling*

One of the counties of Oregon, Jackson County, has banned GMO crops ( Oregon was one of the states involved in the unwanted GMO wheat event. Oregon has voted no to changing its existing law to require the labeling of raw and packaged foods produced entirely or partially by “genetic engineering”. This law would have required retailers to properly label raw product as “genetically engineered”, manufacturers of pre-packaged foods to place labels clearly stating “produced with genetic engineering” or “partially produced with genetic engineering”, no company would have been subject to injunction, or fines, if the pre-packaged foods have less than 0.9% genetic engineered materials by the total weight of the package, or were unknowingly, or unintentionally, contaminated with genetically engineered material. For pre-packaged products, retailers would have been only responsible for their own-labeled products. This would not have applied to animal feed or food served in restaurants.

Colorado Labeling Requirements for Genetically Engineered Food**

A law proposed in Colorado but also not passed, dealt with labeling requirements for products derived from genetic modification. Its main aim was that packaged and raw agriculture products derived from GM would have to have been labeled as “produced with genetic engineering”. Food would not have been considered misbranded if it had been produced by someone unaware that the seed or food was derived from genetic engineering, or that it was either unknowingly or unintentionally comingled with genetically engineered seed or food.

Industry Associations Supporting Food and GMO Labeling

The Grocery Manufacturers’ Association (GMA), a major US industry association that is against the individual state laws regarding GMO labeling, supports the HR 4432 Safe and Accurate Food labeling Act ( This proposed law will not require products with GMO ingredients to be labeled as such, unless there are safety issues or substantial differences between them and the non-GMO ingredient, but it will set specific requirements for GMO free claims and require the US FDA to develop requirement for Natural claims.

Vermont is still the only states to have passed an unencumbered GMO law. Currently, the laws in Maine and Connecticut with their requirements still not met will not be enacted, at least at this time. To date there are now more than 60 countries, as well as the EU, requiring labeling of GMOs.

For further information on GMO testing ( and labeling, please contact the SGS experts.


* Oregon Mandatory Labeling of GMOs Initiative, Measure 92 (2014) (
** Colorado Right to Know Act - Prop 105 (

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 80,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,650 offices and laboratories around the world.
Contact Information
SGS Consumer Testing Services
James Cook
+1 973 461 1493
Food Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Manager
291 Fairfield Ave, Fairfield
New Jersey 07004, USA

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