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Groups Express Concern Over GM Labeling

More than 80 public health, environmental, agriculture, and organic food organizations are fighting to protect genetically modified (GM), or genetically engineered (GE) food labels.

The groups sent a letter Tuesday to Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for food at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and to Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), expressing serious concerns about a proposed U.S. position on genetically modified GM/GE labeling.

The United Nations’ Codex Committee on Food Labeling is meeting in Quebec City, Canada in early May to discuss the labeling issue. According to the letter, much of the concern comes from the position the FDA and USDA drafted on the issue.

“We are concerned that the current U.S. position could potentially create significant problems for food producers in the U.S. who wish to indicate their products contain no GE ingredients, including organic food, where genetic engineering is a prohibited method,” reads the letter, signed by experts from Consumers Union, the National Organic Coalition, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Food and Water Watch, and many others.

In the draft position, the agencies oppose a Codex document, which says countries can adopt different approaches to labeling of GE food, in line with existing Codex guidance. The current U.S. draft position says mandatory labeling of food as GE/GM “is likely to create the impression that the labeled food is in some way different” and would therefore be “false, misleading or deceptive.”

A recent poll, conducted by Consumers Union, found that two-thirds of consumers would be concerned if they thought that GM ingredients were in organic food, according a release issued by the group.

“Both science and existing law in the United States acknowledge and incorporate the fact that GE/GM seeds and foods are different from non-engineered varieties,” says the letter.

“Such foods clearly are different,” said Michael Hansen, a senior scientist at Consumers Union. “USDA organic rules specifically state that GE seed cannot be used in organic production. The FDA has also taken the position that within the U.S., voluntary labeling as to whether or not a product contains GE ingredients is permissible.”

“We find it hard to understand how FDA and USDA can argue to Codex that mandatory labeling is inherently false and misleading, but voluntary labeling, which is permitted in the United States, is not,” says the letter.

“We are, in fact, concerned that the current U.S. position appears to seek to establish precedents at Codex that would make it difficult to label food as non-GM within the U.S.”

© Food Safety News
  • Paul

    YES!!!!! Its very important for the american public to have the knowledge of what we are about to digest into our bodies and the choice to either purchase it or not. We need to know these things…..

  • TanyaLasagna

    You know what? if they’re fighting that hard AGAINST having to label GMO products, that says to me that they know perfectly well that consumers DON’T want them! So how ’bout producing what we DO want (non-GMO food!!!), and then this whole prickly problem becomes a non-issue… how about that? (What’s that, you say? Monsanto’s profit margins would slim down? SO f’n WHAT! couldn’t care less… I want real food, please & thank you.)

  • christina

    i agree more than i can express in words,at least when i go to the store i can express my feelings in what i purchase, everything in my house is labeled organic and from small company’s down to the powder sugar, olive oil ,peanut oil etc. i don’t care how expensive it is my health is wealth and i’m a lot more wealthy than most everyone out there I’m not going to be any ones fat o beast diabetic Guini pig they can eat there products and kill them selves for all i care lets try to at least educate the people at the store if i see someone buying something bad i tell them about it.

  • GeGe Gruenstern

    I would like to see products that contain GE/GM ingredients in them labeled. As a consumer we are kept in the dark as to whether or not products contain Genetically Modified ingredients in them. I personally do not want to consume a large portion of GE/GM products. I try to buy organic as much as possible.
    How can I help to get legislation passed to make it mandatory to label products that contain GE/GM ingredients in them?
    Thanks,
    God Bless,
    GeGe G.