Generating more public comments and signatures than any other food petition in the FDA's history, the Just Label It campaign (Docket # FDA-2011-P-0723-0001/CP) is nearing its deadline of March 27th with more than 850, 000 comments and counting.
The campaign—an alliance of close to 450 organizations and businesses in the healthcare, agricultural, environmental, advocacy, family and faith sectors—calls for food manufacturers to be legally required to disclose the presence of any genetically modified ingredients in its product on packaging labels, similar to regulations on GMOs in most other developed countries around the world including the 15 nations in the European Union, Japan, China, Russia and Brazil. There are currently no laws or regulations in the U.S. requiring manufacturers to disclose the use of genetically modified organisms, despite their widespread use in processed food. The California Department of Food and Agriculture estimates that at least 70 percent of all processed food sold in the U.S. contains GMOs. Ninety-three percent of all soy, canola and cotton and 86 percent of corn grown in the U.S. are genetically engineered.
Holding the same opinion since 1992 when GMOs were hardly a substantial presence in the nation's food supply, the agency is maintaining its position that GMOs are “substantially equivalent” to conventionally produced foods. The FDA will review the public comments and new data the Just Label It campaign is preparing to present on the growing number of human and environmental safety risks connected with GMOs, but states that the agency has "no basis for concluding that bioengineered foods differ from any other foods in any meaningful or uniform way."
A similar initiative is underway in California, seeking to give Californians the right to vote on whether or not the state will become the first in the nation to require mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.
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Image: David Sifry