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Senator Elizabeth Warren Joins GMO Labeling Fray on the Side of Monsanto

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our Washington News page.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has joined the GMO labeling debate, but consumer advocates aren't entirely pleased with her position.

The first-term senator is well-known as a champion of consumer protection, especially in relation to banking regulation, but she is on to new issues, calling for the Food and Drug Administration to finalize a 12-year-old draft guidance in relation to the labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms

The guidance could be complied with by the food industry on a voluntary basis, which would not be nearly as tough as the mandatory GMO labeling requirements being sought by consumer advocates. In fact, some advocates fear the FDA guidance promoted by the Massachusetts Democrat and others might even be used to circumvent the tougher standards they seek.

"FDA needs to require mandatory labeling and guidance isn't enough," asserts Scott Faber, director of Just Label It, one of multiple organizations fighting for mandatory labeling on a national basis.

The battle over GMO labeling has been heating up over the past few years, especially following the narrow loss of a 2012 California ballot initiative to require labels on food packaging. The biotechnology industry recently donated millions of dollars to campaign against a Washington state ballot initiative coming up for a vote in November.

In lieu of a national standard, some 26 state legislatures have recently weighed their own GMO labeling requirements.

Warren makes her request for national GMO labeling guidance in the form of a one-page letter, also signed by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), sent to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg on Aug. 22. The letter calls for the FDA to finalize a draft document it issued in January 2001 and to "implement a regulatory framework for the standardization of labeling policies for GMO and non-GMO foods."

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