Two bottles of soybean oil sit on a grocery store shelf. Both contain genetically modified (GM) soybeans from the same crop. One bottle is labelled as a GM product, the other is not.
Both are in compliance with the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new GM food labeling rules (pdf).
Confused? You’re not alone.
Policymakers at the USDA built a massive loophole into its new rule that blatantly benefits major agricultural interests. The rule exempts certain products that typically come from genetically modified crops—including highly refined sugars, oils, and starches—from GM status. That means the soybeans and sugar beets that wind up in many of the packaged goods in grocery stores aren’t considered by the government to make a food genetically modified, and thus won’t have to be labeled as such.