On Jan. 1, the long-running public debate about labeling genetically modified foods entered a new phase. A U.S. federal rule went into effect mandating that food companies disclose whether their products contain a detectable amount of recombinant DNA — genetic material from multiple sources combined through lab techniques to confer desired traits. The new policy requires that those foods be labeled as “bioengineered,” or carry a QR code and phone number that customers can use to find that information.
Since the law requiring the rule change was passed in 2016, it has sparked a predictable backlash. Groups like the nonprofit Center for Food Safety and a coalition of advocates known as Citizens for GMO Labeling have pushed against the regulation, arguing it doesn’t do enough to protect consumers.