Congress appropriated a total of $7.5 million to fund the Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative, which calls upon the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide education and outreach to the public on agricultural biotechnology and food and animal feed ingredients derived from biotechnology. The FDA is currently working on this initiative in coordination with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Feed Your Mind was developed to share science-based information that educates, informs, and broadens understanding about agricultural biotechnology for consumers. The content in this initiative is for consumer education and is not intended for use in regulatory or policy decision-making.
Background Work on this Initiative
The FDA obtained input from a broad group of stakeholders on this issue. Two public meetings were held in November 2017 and a docket was opened to receive public comments. Comments were received from individuals in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and other countries.
The FDA examined the latest science and research studies relevant to consumer education and outreach to help inform the development of the initiative’s educational materials.
The Initiative is a multi-phased effort. In 2020 and 2021, the new agricultural biotechnology website and a selection of fact sheets, infographics, videos, and a supplementary curriculum for middle school and high school classrooms were released. In August 2022, new resources for health professionals and consumers were made available. These resources were based on extensive research that informed the development of educational and outreach materials.
Additional consumer materials will be released in late 2022.
Questions & Answers
What is the Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative (the Initiative) and why was it undertaken?
In the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, Congress directed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct “consumer outreach and education regarding agricultural biotechnology and biotechnology derived food products and animal feed, including through publication and distribution of science-based educational information on the environmental, nutritional, food safety, economic, and humanitarian impacts of such biotechnology, food products, and feed.” The Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Appropriations bill, signed in March 2018, included additional funding for this consumer education and outreach Initiative. The FY 2019 Appropriations bill, signed in January 2019, again included additional funding for the Initiative.
The Initiative, Feed Your Mind, is a multi-phased effort. The initiative provides science-based educational resources for consumers, health care professionals, teachers, and health educators to educate, inform, and broaden the understanding of agricultural biotechnology, the products of which are sometimes referred to as genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In 2020 and 2021, the new agricultural biotechnology website and a selection of fact sheets, infographics, videos, and a supplementary curriculum for middle school and high school classrooms were released. In August 2022, new resources for health professionals and consumers were made available. These resources were based on extensive research that informed the development of educational and outreach materials. Additional consumer materials will be released in late 2022.
What was the process for developing and informing this Initiative?
The FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) led the development of the Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative. A steering committee made up of members from the FDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and several working groups were established to provide subject matter expertise and coordinate efforts across each agency.
To help guide development of the Initiative, the FDA began by gathering input from stakeholders through two public meetings and opened a docket to receive public comments.
The FDA examined the latest science and research studies relevant to agricultural biotechnology to help inform the development of educational materials. We conducted more than 40 focus groups representing the diverse backgrounds of consumers around the country to gauge their understanding and needs related to information on this topic. Draft educational resources were extensively tested for clarity and usability with a diverse array of consumers across the country.
What is the goal of Feed Your Mind and what topics does it cover?
Feed Your Mind was developed to share science-based information that educates, informs, and broadens understanding about agricultural biotechnology for consumers.
The materials aim to educate consumers about agricultural biotechnology by:
- Increasing understanding about agricultural biotechnology, including what it means, other names used to describe it, and the history of its development.
- Increasing awareness about the most common genetically engineered (GE), sometimes referred to as GMO, food crops and understanding of how GE foods are created and used.
- Increasing awareness about the federal government’s role in the regulation of agricultural biotechnology for human and animal food.
Feed Your Mind includes many different types of materials/resources. What are they and who are they for?
Resources were designed for consumers, but they can be useful resources for health care professionals and nutrition educators.
The resources, many in plain language, include:
- Fact sheets
- Informative videos
Feed Your Mind also offers materials for specific professional audiences who can help educate students, including Science and Our Food Supply, a supplementary curriculum that teachers can use in middle and high school classrooms. There are also new resources for health professionals and health educators.
Will there be more resources/materials added to the Initiative website? If yes, when?
Resources are being released to the public in phases.
The initial phase included the agricultural biotechnology Initiative website and a selection of fact sheets, infographics, and videos.
Additional materials—including a supplementary curriculum for middle school and high school classrooms, resources for health professionals, and additional consumer materials—have been added since launching Feed Your Mind in 2020.
Can materials from the Initiative be downloaded and shared with others?
Yes! The Initiative includes a variety of tools and resources for organizations and individuals to review and use free of charge.
All materials are available on www.fda.gov/feedyourmind where it is easy to download and share digital content and resources about GMO topics of interest.
Who should I contact if I have questions about this Initiative?
Submit your questions about the Initiative using the following options:
Who was involved in developing these materials?
Materials were developed by scientists and public health education experts from FDA, USDA, and EPA.
Does this Initiative discuss genome editing (and other newer techniques)?
Genome editing is a term used to describe a relatively new set of technologies that enable one to make targeted changes in the DNA of a plant, animal, or other living organism.
To provide the most up-to-date information, Feed Your Mind provides some basic details about advances in the field, including genome editing, but most materials focus on the use of genetic engineering technologies.
How does this effort relate to the bioengineered (BE) labeling regulation?
This Initiative was developed in response to a provision in the FY 2017, 2018, and 2019 Appropriations Acts. Another law, the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, was passed by Congress in July of 2016. The Standard directed USDA to establish a national mandatory labeling standard for disclosing human foods that are or may be bioengineered. Certain types of genetically engineered foods have a disclosure that lets you know if the food is bioengineered. “Bioengineered food” is the term that Congress used to describe certain types of genetically engineered foods when they passed the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard.
For more details on the labeling requirement for foods that are genetically modified or “bioengineered,” including sample labels, visit www.ams.usda.gov/be.