A coalition of consumer groups and other organizations have petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to require labeling of genetically engineered foods.
The Just Label It — We Have a Right to Know (www.justlabelit.org) campaign submitted a petition to the FDA Oct. 4, asking the agency to require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods, according to a news release from the group.
Compared to widespread use of genetically engineered corn and soybeans in processed foods — more than 90% of corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically engineered — there are only a handful of genetically modified fresh produce commodities. Perhaps the most high profile of current genetically modified fresh produce items, Hawaii’s Rainbow papaya, modified to resist ringspot virus, was approved by federal authorities in 1998.
Gary Hirshberg, chief executive officer of Stonyfield Farm, Londonberry, N.H., said in an e-mail that FDA has already required labeling for irradiation. “We fully expect the FDA to become aligned with other government agencies and 21st century food technology and respond to the wishes of the vast majority of Americans and require labeling for genetically engineered foods,” he said.
The FDA has rejected labeling of genetically engineered foods since 1992, according to the release. The European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Brazil and China require labeling of genetically engineered foods, according to the release.
The FDA is considering whether to approve genetically engineered salmon and, if it is approved, whether to require labels.
“We are asking the FDA to change a decades-old and out-of-touch policy,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, said in the release. “Today’s consumers are more informed than ever, and they have a right to know about the foods they are purchasing and consuming. We want the FDA to require labeling on foods intentionally produced using genetic engineering.”
The release said a 2010 Thomson Reuters survey indicated 93% of Americans support labeling of genetically engineered foods.
Coalition members include the American Nurses Association, Center for Food Safety, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, National Cooperative Grocers Association and the Union of Concerned Scientists.