A guide to the pending legislation on GMOs for coffee industry professionals and consumers.

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What You Need to Know About GMOs

And why you should care.

Are there GMOs in my coffee?

No, the NCA is not aware of any GMO coffee in the marketplace.

However, flavorings and additives used in coffee products may qualify as GMO if, for example, they contain soy or corn derivatives that are themselves GMO foods.

What are GMOs?

GMOs are plants or animals whose DNA has been altered through genetic engineering (GE) to take on specific characteristics.  

Are GMOs safe?

GMO foods currently available on the international market have passed safety assessments and have shown no negative effects on human health, according to the World Health Organization.

Many critics of GMOs say genetically engineering a food could affect its nutritional value or create allergens or toxins in the food. These claims are disputed by federal regulators, including the Food and Drug Administration.

Why are GMOs produced?

One of the key objectives for developing GMOs is to protect crop production by increasing resistance to pests and herbicides.

What are hybrids?

“Hybrid” plants are different from GMOs. Hybrids are plants are those that have been created using traditional techniques – over thousands of years – where the pollen from one plant is used to fertilize another.  Some coffee plants are hybrids.

So why are we talking about GMOs now?

Vermont's GMO labeling legislation, Vermont Act 120, is scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2016. The new rules would require special labeling for all products sold in state.

Federal legislation has been introduced and passed by the House that would give the FDA responsibility for addressing GMO labeling on a federal level, to protect business across state lines. As a sponsor of the bill put it, the goal is to avoid "...a nasty patchwork of laws." 

How can I learn more?

Additional information is available from the following resources: