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International Regulations on Genetically Modified Organisms in Food

Updated: Feb 4, 2022

Fifteen years ago, a survey conducted in college students compared consumer acceptance of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Japan, Norway, Taiwan and the U.S., and concluded that Americans were more willing to consume foods containing GMOs than their international counterparts. Most participants in the survey would like to have mandatory labeling on GMOs, and were willing to pay extra for non-GMO food.[1] Since the regulation of GMOs were first established in the early 1990s in major regions of the world, countries have gone through initial formation, gradual modification and evolvement of their own rules over the years. This article summarizes what will be published in the June-July issue of Food Safety Magazine.

U.S.: Demands for Mandatory labeling

On March 16, the U.S. Senate blocked a bill to nullify the mandatory labeling of GMOs at state or local level, indicating that the debate on whether to label GMOs voluntarily or mandatorily has not ended yet.[2] Several states have required mandatory labeling of GMOs before this bill, including Vermont, Connecticut, Maine and others.[3,4]

American consumers have been increasingly expressing their concerns and demanding mandatory GMO labeling. Throughout 2015, the U.S. drove the launches of GMO-free claims worldwide; the U.S. accounted for 43 percent of global launches, even ahead of European Union (EU) for 4 percent. In the past, there has been limited consumer resistance to GMOs in the U.S. But in recent years, dairy companies, as well as non-dairy drink manufacturers using plant source protein, have been expressing strong interest in non-GMO labeling.[5]

According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, 70–80 percent of processed food that Americans consume daily contains genetically engineered plants. If mandatory labeling on GMOs becomes instituted, as is the current situation in the EU, Japan and New Zealand, the U.S. food industry would be hugely impacted; most foods with GMOs may have to be eliminated from the shelf due to consumer aversions. EU-