Biotechnology (or Biotech)
Biotechnology (or Biotech) has evolved to include an array of complicated processes that utilize the natural systems found in living things. The resulting technologies are then applied to a wide range of purposes, including for the environment and health care as well as food production and food safety. For example, biotech tools called Marker Assisted Selection can provide the DNA sequence of specific traits in animals or crops without changing their DNA. Biotechnology has supported the creation of non-soil (hydroponic) methods to grow vegetables. However some have used the word “Biotech” interchangeably with “GMO”, “Genetically Engineered” and “Bioengineered” to mean seeds or animals that have been changed to include DNA from another species.
To further confuse things, various organizations have created their own standards for what qualifies as GMO or for non-GMO. The criteria are varied and sometimes self-serving for the locality or industry involved. That’s why, in 2016, Congress passed a law requiring a uniform nation-wide standard for disclosure (labeling) of “Bioengineered” foods. We’ve created the following guidance to help food retailers better respond as customers ask questions about product labels or see news reports on the topic.