The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires the FDA to prevent consumer deception by clarifying that a food label is misleading if it omits significant “material” information. In 1992 the FDA issued a policy statement that defined “material” as the ability to be sensed by taste, smell, or other senses. The FDA determined that GE Foods were “substantially equivalent” to conventionally produced foods, so there was no material difference – and no labeling was required. After almost 20 years, this policy is still in effect today.
For example, a salmon that is genetically engineered to produce hormones throughout the year is not, according to the FDA, materially different from a non-genetically engineered salmon because it does not taste, smell or feel different. And without a label to tell us differently, when eating salmon, we would not know if what we were consuming had been genetically altered.
Note: In December 2012, the FDA released an Environmental Assessment on Aquabounty’s GE salmon, an action widely viewed as confirmation of upcoming approval.
People today want more information than ever. Yet, this decade’s old and out of touch FDA policy prevents us from knowing about our food.
A legal petition was filed in September 2011 by the Center for Food Safety, demanding that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) require mandatory federal labeling of GE foods.
The petition calls for the FDA to:
On March 27th, 2012, 180 days after the petition was filed, over 1 million Americans had signed in support of labeling genetically engineered foods. To date, the FDA petition has received over 1.2 million signatures.
To add your name to the FDA petition, and tell your members of Congress to support labeling, click here.