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Organic Consumers Association

Fifty-Five Members Of Congress Call On FDA To Require Labeling Of Genetically Engineered Foods

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.
This morning a bicameral letter signed by 55 Members of Congress was sent to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg calling on the agency to require the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. The bicameral, bipartisan letter led by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) was written in support of a legal petition filed by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) on behalf of the Just Label It campaign and its nearly 400 partner organizations and businesses; many health, consumer, environmental, and farming organizations, as well as food companies, are also signatories.  Since CFS filed the labeling petition in October 2011, the public has submitted over 850,000 comments in support of labeling.

"Consumers are being misled about the foods they are purchasing," said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director for the Center for Food Safety.  "FDA's two-decade old decision is bad policy based on outdated science and must be revoked.  The American consumer deserves the same fundamental freedoms and choices of other nations' citizens."

In the U.S. there is overwhelming public demand-consistently near 95%-for the labeling of GE foods.  The U.S. policy of not requiring GE labeling makes it a stark outlier among developed and developing nations.  Nearly 50 countries have mandatory labeling policies for GE foods including South Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom, Brazil, China, Australia, New Zealand, the entire European Union, and many others.

In its 1992 policy statement, FDA allowed GE foods to be marketed without labeling on the basis that they were not "materially" different from other foods.  However, the agency severely limited what it considered "material" by targeting only changes in food that could be recognized by taste, smell, or other senses - applying 19th century science to the regulation of 21st century food technologies.  The outdated standard has no legal basis in the statute and was adopted by FDA despite a lack of scientific studies or data to support the assumption that GE foods are not materially different from conventional foods.


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