One of the most hotly debated discussions about our nation’s food supply—the issue of genetically modified organisms—has led to a record-breaking number of comments submitted to the FDA, according to the petition campaign titled “Just Label It” that spearheaded the signature gathering and comments. But, by the FDA’s math, those 1 million individuals only actually count as 394 separate comments.
The one million signatures collected by Just Label It—more than any other petition submitted to the FDA in its history—were secured by the campaign over the last several months in order to persuade the agency to consider labeling the controversial seeds that are banned or strictly regulated throughout the rest of the developed world. But, the FDA’s rules say that if tens of thousands of people sign a single petition or submit the same form letter, they are only counted as one collective comment. The Chicago Tribune reports that agency spokesperson, Siobhan DeLancey, said the rules are all the same for citizens petitions, “it’s impossible for me to compare the claim of 1 million comments to other dockets–especially without knowing how JLI [Just Label It] is defining a ‘comment’.”
According to representatives of the Just Label It campaign, the agency has acknowledged receipt of the comments, and sent a correspondence to the campaign saying that a decision had not yet been reached and the agency needs more time to do so.
Nearly 80 percent of processed foods sold in the U.S. contain genetically modified ingredients, according to the California Department of Food & Agriculture, and manufacturers are not required to indicate the use of GMO ingredients on product labels or websites, which has led to a number of class-action lawsuits by consumers who have unknowingly purchased food products labeled as “natural” when they actually contain GMOs. The World Health Organization defines GMOs as changes made that would not naturally occur in the organism.
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