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Dec 19th
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Home News Latest Federal lawmakers urge FDA to require GMO labeling

Federal lawmakers urge FDA to require GMO labeling

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A group of 55 Senate and House lawmakers sent a letter on Monday urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require the labeling of genetically engineered foods so that consumers can make informed choices about what they feed their families.

The Senate and House lawmakers wrote in support of a petition – supported by hundreds of organizations and businesses – that calls on the FDA to protect consumers’ rights by ensuring that all genetically engineered foods are properly labeled.

Polls have consistently shown that consumers are surprised to learn that genetically engineered foods are not identified and they strongly support a federal requirement to label these products.

The lawmakers wrote, “We urge you to fully review the facts, law, and science, and side with the American public by requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods as is done in nearly 50 countries throughout the world. FDA has a clear opportunity to protect a consumer’s right to know, the freedom to choose what we feed our families, and the integrity of our free and open markets with this petition.”

In addition to Senator Boxer and Congressman DeFazio, the letter was signed by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jon Tester (D-MT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), George Miller (D-CA), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Peter Welch (D-VT), Hansen Clarke (D-MI), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Sam Farr (D-CA), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), James Moran (D-VA), John Olver (D-MA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Pete Stark (D-CA), Howard Berman (D-CA), Robert Brady (D-PA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Bob Filner (D-CA), Barney Frank (D-NY), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Janice Hahn (D-CA), Michael Honda (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), James McGovern (D-MA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Jackie Speier (D-CA), John Tierney (D-MA), Mel Watt (D-NC), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Grace Napolitano (D-CA).  

The full text of the lawmakers’ letter is below:

March 12, 2012
The Honorable Margaret Hamburg
Food and Drug Administration
5100 Paint Branch Parkway
College Park, MD 20740-3835  

Dear Commissioner Hamburg,

We write to you in support of a recent legal petition, supported by over 400 organizations and businesses, to protect consumer rights and prevent consumer deception by requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods. FDA’s regulatory regime for food labeling is inadequate and uses 19th century concepts to regulate 21st century food technologies.  

As you know, in its 1992 policy statement, FDA allowed GE foods to be marketed without labeling because they were not “materially” different from other foods. In that policy statement, the agency severely limited what it considered “material” to only changes in food that could be recognized by taste, smell, or other senses. The use of novel food technologies like genetic engineering on a commercial scale has so far slipped underneath FDA’s limited threshold for “materiality” because such technologies make silent, genetic, and molecular changes to food that are not capable of being detected by human senses. In its 2009 guidance to industry, FDA applied its outdated GE food labeling policy to GE animals without revisiting the scientific or legal merits of the standard. This decision is especially troubling given FDA’s current consideration of a GE salmon that would be the first genetically engineered animal for human consumption.

At issue is the fundamental right consumers have to make informed choices about the food they eat. Labeling foods doesn’t imply a product is unsafe or will be confusing to consumers as some may argue. The FDA requires the labeling of over 3,000 ingredients, additives, and processes; providing basic information doesn’t confuse the public, it empowers them to make choices. Absent labeling, Americans are unable to choose for themselves whether to purchase GE foods. Polls have consistently shown that consumers are not only surprised to know that GE foods are not identified, but that they want the federal government to label these products. Since the labeling petition was filed in October 2011, nearly a million comments have been submitted in support of labeling.  

The FDA has the opportunity and authority to do right by the American public. When issuing its rule requiring irradiated foods to be labeled, FDA stated in broad terms that a decision to require labeling is not just based on the physical changes to the food but also on whether consumers view such information as important, and whether the omission of label information may mislead a consumer. The fact that FDA has already adopted this broad interpretation of “material” facts demonstrates that it is a reasonable—and therefore permissible—interpretation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA).  

We urge you to fully review the facts, law, and science, and side with the American public by requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods as is done in nearly 50 countries throughout the world. FDA has a clear opportunity to protect a consumer’s right to know, the freedom to choose what we feed our families, and the integrity of our free and open markets with this petition. Thank you for your consideration.

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Comments (9)Add Comment
Display of ignorance
written by a guest, March 15, 2012
can'tdrive55 should read more and/or research the the topic of GMOs before exposing such complete ignorance of the topic
can't drive 55
written by a guest, March 15, 2012
should read up on the topic, or do a little checking on the internet before exhibiting such complete ignorance of the issue.
written by a guest, March 14, 2012
Corporate Ag loves to propagandize about "70-80 percent of processed foods on store shelves contains GMO ingredients" but the truth is, most of those products contain very little GMO ingredients (mostly corn, soy, cannola or cottonseed oil in comparatively small proportion to the over-all ingredients). It will not cost food manufacturers much to switch to all-GMO-free ingredients, which is what they will do, to avoid having to reveal GMO ingredients (kiss of death in the market, since no one wants to buy those products).

The only thing keeping GMO agriculture going are taxpayer subsidies, that's why we call GMO's "welfare crops." They cost more to grow than they are worth. Taxpayers make up the difference.

Less than 1% of all Farm Subsidies paid by the US Govt go to growers of fruits and vegetables. Most monies are paid to large-scale growers of commodity crops, and 80% of those commodity crops are used to feed livestock in Concentrated Animal Feed Operations (CAFO's). Factory farming is so inherently sick-inducing that the animals must be fed antibiotics daily, just to keep them alive. 80% of pharmaceuticals produced in the USA are used in such livestock operations. This is why we are becoming so susceptible to super-bacteria that are rapidly evolving to resist medicines that used to control them easily.

Our food system is designed to make wealthy corporations wealthier, to keep farmers poor (in debt up to the eyeballs), and to keep consumers addicted to sugar and fat. Meanwhile, our average lifespan has started to FALL for the first time in 100 years. Chronic disease and food allergy rates doubled in this country during the first 20 years that GMO's were introduced (unlabeled) into our food supply.
hot off today's press
written by a guest, March 14, 2012
Hot off the press

"The announcement that China is to put in place State
legislation restricting GMO proliferation and banning the
use of unauthorised GE technology is a signal that GE food
safety has become paramount consideration for China’s
State Council. China has already taken the first steps to
detect any GE contamination by establishing the General
Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and
Quarantine (AQSIQ) Bureau. This body carries out pre-export
analysis and testing of GE food and seed and has stringent
border inspection protocols for GE products.

“This move has enormous implications about food safety. The US is
facing significant problems from its deregulation of GE
crops, and other countries are taking positive action after
learning from their mistakes”
GMO labeling more likely to SAVE us money
written by a guest, March 14, 2012
Right now companies that export to Europe, China, Japan and other countries with GMO labeling laws must invest extra money in the cost of duel-production systems (one for US market, one for all other markets). Since other markets require GMO labeling, US companies selling to those markets are producing a separate line of products without GMO ingredients (that is how desperate they are to avoid revealing their GMO ingredients!). They use taxpayer-subsidized GMOs (in other words, welfare crops) only in the US versions of the foods they process. So, Vanilla Wafers made for the US market contain GMO's. The same company's Vanilla Wafers made for export are made with non-GMO ingredients. Once we have GMO labeling here, too, then those companies will consolidate their manufacturing so that everything they make is GMO-free.

Call that a win for consumer choice, a win for market-demand-driven economies, a win for our nation's health, and a win for the company's bottom-line, too.

The only losers will be Big Ag and the BioTech Corporations.
GMOs are ABSOLUTELY different from selective breeding!
written by Roberta, March 14, 2012
Don't let bio-tech and Farm Bureau shills confuse the issue. Traditional farmers selecting for the plumpest pea or sweetest corn is NOT the same as shooting an herbicide-resistant trait into a plant's DNA so it can be saturated with toxic herbicide spray several times before going to market and into your grocery cart!

Sign the petition so California can lead the way in restoring choice to American consumers and let US decide what WE want to eat like consumers in other countries do.

The extra cost of labeling? Give me a break - we already have labels on processed food - but you might save some money if you're now buying food labeled "Natural" that is actually full of unlabeled GMOs! The vast majority of shoppers say they want labeling and they want to avoid GMOs. Big Ag just wants to keep profiting from keeping us in the dark.
cantdrive55 is aggressively ignorant and/or deliberately misleading
written by a guest, March 14, 2012
GMO's are totally different than anything done in plant breeding or genetics before the 1990's. 95% of Americans want GMO labeling, so we as consumers can CHOOSE what we buy. Cantdrive55 supports the Corporate Puppetmasters' desire to deprive us of information. Cantdrive55 supports a slave state, where we must labor and live at the whim of the Overlords, with no freedom over anything, even the freedom to choose what we eat.

Move to Somalia, Cantdrive55. You will love it there. No government!
written by cantdrive55, March 14, 2012
55 of 535 political hacks pandering for re-election, WoW 10% of the federal lawmakers, i'm impressed.
It's the vocal minority trying to grandma us into another price increase to cover legislative B.S.
Every edible product has been engineered in some way, there are no specs on what is and isn't GMO
So it all is.

OK, right next to the product weight it should say GMO, because it is,
from Christmas trees to apple fritters
they're all managed,
makes Coke,Pepsi and pizza look like health foods,
Oh thats right, the federal lawmakers already ruled thatsmilies/grin.gifROFLMAO
Signature Gathering Underway for Statewide Label GMOs Initiative
written by a guest, March 14, 2012
The Committee for the Right to Know is a grassroots coalition of consumer, public health, environmental organizations, and food companies in California that is seeking the labeling of genetically engineered foods (GMOs).

On November 9, 2011, the coalition submitted the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act to the State Attorney General for title and summary, prior to circulation as an initiative measure for the November 2012 election. Subsequently, the AG released the summary, and the volunteers are now out in our community, gathering signatures.

Petition circulators may approach you near high-traffic stores. Please take the time to respond to their request for your signature. Over 500,000 valid signatures are needed in order to qualify this initiative onto the ballot. There is little over a month left to accomplish this goal, so please help in any way you can to get this done!

For more information:

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