Washington, D.C. (March 2, 2012) The recent internet claim that Just Label It’s record-breaking one million petition comments had been deleted by the FDA must have been an April Fool’s joke.
In fact, the Just Label It Coalition submitted a record-breaking 1,149,967 comments to the FDA’s www.regulations.gov site by midnight on March 27th, the final date comments were accepted. It took only 180 days for this record-breaking amount of comments to be generated on the GMO labeling petition, (Docket # FDA 2011-P-0723-001/CP), which had been filed in October 2011. Just Label It was started specifically to generate support for the petition and the labeling of genetically engineered foods.
“Submitting gathered signatures and uploading them to www.regulations.gov together has been common practice as long as the public has been able to submit electronic comments,” said Heather Whitehead, True Food Network Director at the Center for Food Safety (CFS). “Perhaps this record number of commenters calling for transparency in labeling will focus the FDA to action on this issue, and put pressure on FDA to allow in the future for increased transparency in the public comment process by making changes necessary to allow for individual comments directed from third party sites.”
Just Label It could have printed out every comment and delivered them to the FDA to count individually, but uploading them electronically prevents wasteful use of natural resources and was the best option. While it is an outdated system, it is not true that the FDA deleted Just Label It’s comments. You just need to file a FOIA request to see them.
As for next steps, Just Label It encourages supporters of GMO labeling to visit www.justlabelit.org for updated information and to keep up the pressure for GMO labeling by signing Just label It’s national petition for GMO labeling. The Just Label It website features recent survey findings that show that 9 out of 10 Americans of all political backgrounds support the right to know and GMO labeling.