According to the New York Times, the USDA has approved a non-GMO label claim “that meat certified by the Non-GMO Project came from animals that never ate feed containing genetically engineered ingredients like corn, soy and alfalfa.” As explained in the article:
The U.S.D.A.’s Food Safety Inspection Service “allows companies to demonstrate on their labels that they meet a third-party certifying organization’s standards, provided that the third-party organization and the company can show that the claims are truthful, accurate and not misleading,” Cathy Cochran, a U.S.D.A. spokeswoman, said in a statement. Ms. Cochran said the approval for labeling meats did not signal “any new policy regarding non-G.E. or non-G.M.O. products.”
Apparently, earlier efforts to obtain this label approval were rejected because the standard for non-GMO certification was either lacking or not fully vetted by the USDA. This issue has apparently been remedied and the standards for non-GMO certification can be found on the Non-GMO Project’s website.
Significantly, the voluntary labeling of meat and poultry products as being non-GMO certified is vastly different than the separate question of whether the FDA / USDA should require food companies to label products as containing GMO-based ingredients (or in the case of meat, that animals ate GMO feed). The former should not be an issue so long as a proper standard exists so consumers know what non-GMO certification means. The latter, however, raises many thorny legal and regulatory issues that have been well documented on this blog and countless other sources.