The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) board of trustees has adopted a policy to advocate for a federal regulation for voluntary disclosure of absence of genetically engineered (GE) or genetically modified organism (GMO) ingredients in food and dietary supplements. AHPA will work to enact this regulation through federal legislation or through rulemaking.
"AHPA's members have diverse views when it comes to labeling products to disclose genetically engineered ingredients," says AHPA President Michael McGuffin. "The AHPA board's action signals support for the broadly expressed consumer interest in making informed purchase decisions when it comes to GE/GMO foods, while recognizing a 'voluntary disclosure of absence' approach as the best regulatory option to accomplish this."
In adopting this policy, the AHPA board acknowledged that a single federal regulation is more practical than a patchwork of state labeling requirements. At least 25 states legislatures have considered this issue in just the past year. While federal legislation has been introduced to require mandatory identification of food produced with genetic engineering, this legislation would largely rely on "guarantees" provided by ingredient suppliers.
"It is possible that a voluntary program that motivates manufacturers to comply will provide more and better information to consumers than one based primarily on the promises of ingredient suppliers," added McGuffin.
This is not the first time the AHPA board has acted to address the labeling of products with genetically engineered (or modified) ingredients. In 2007, AHPA adopted a guidance policy that "supports labeling of consumer goods to identify any ingredients that are herbal raw agricultural products knowingly and intentionally cultivated with GMO technologies ... in a manner that assures that consumers are informed that the ingredient was cultivated with GMO technology."