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A Universal Label for GMOs

Ragland, Rachel E., BS; Mansfield, Jennifer L., BS; Savaiano, Dennis A., PhD

doi: 10.1097/NT.0000000000000257
Nutrition and Food Policy

In order to address the variation in state-level GMO labeling, Congress passed a national GMO labeling law in July 2016. Under this legislation, Public Law No. 114-216, all food manufacturers are required to disclose whether their products contain genetically modified ingredients. However, manufacturers have a choice as to how they provide the information, including a text statement or symbol, a digital QR code, a phone number, or a Web site. The US Department of Agriculture was granted 2 years following passage of the legislation to finalize and implement the regulations. The primary critique of Public Law No. 114-216 is that the label forms (ie, an unregulated icon, telephone number, Web site, or digital code) are neither transparent nor convenient for the consumer. One universal GMO “label” is more likely to provide consumers with clear, direct, and usable information. With a universal label, consumers who want to know if GMOs are included in a food product can do so without the undue burden of accessing a secondary source.

Rachel E. Ragland, BS, is graduate student in public health, Department of Public Health, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.

Jennifer L. Mansfield, BS, is graduate student in nutrition science, Department of Nutrition Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.

Dennis A. Savaiano, PhD, is Virginia C. Meredith professor of nutrition policy and director of the North Central Nutrition Education Center of Excellence, Department of Nutrition Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.

Correspondence Dennis Savaiano, PhD, 700 W State St, Stone 204, West Lafayette, IN 47907 (

This project was not funded. The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the USDA or other institutions to which the authors belong.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

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