Casey J. Nelson


Government-compelled commercial disclosures are not unfamiliar to consumers. Common labels include nutrition facts and ingredient information. The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, which took full force at the start of 2022, is of a different nature. The new law requires all manufacturers, all importers, and certain retailers of bioengineered foods to disclose on the food’s packaging that it has been produced with bioengineering technology. Even so, a large swath of the public is ignorant of “bioengineering’s” true meaning and bioengineering technology’s true quality. The politically charged and fact-lacking debate on bioengineered foods renders this standard an impermissible coercion of speech in violation of the First Amendment. If stricter regulation of potentially harmful food products is truly desired, a more appropriate target for compelled disclosure is pesticide use. Using science communication principles and factual information on the outcomes of bioengineered foods as a backdrop, this Note argues against the labeling of bioengineered foods and for alternative pesticide disclosures.