Nearly 400 businesses and organizations dedicated to food safety and consumer rights appealed to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week in hopes of giving consumers the right to know what’s in their food. The petition, on behalf of the Just Label It organization, is hoping a mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods, also known as genetically modified organisms or GMOs, will become mandatory. More specifically, foods altered with at the molecular level that do not occur naturally will have a little sticker or label saying so.
As it stands right now, if a food looks, tastes, and smells equivalent to its conventionally produced counterpart, there is no “material” difference and no labeling is required. That is why the nearly 90 percent of corn, 94 percent of soy, and 90 percent of cottonseed grown in the US from GE seeds do not require labeling. What’s even scarier is that the FDA, even at the request of the U.S. House of Representative to halt approval, is in talks to deregulate salmon – meaning that a genetically engineered salmon that does not taste, smell or feel different from a non-GE salmon would leave consumers unaware if what they are consuming has been genetically altered – unless of course they caught it themselves or it is labeled organic.
Thankfully, USDA certified organic standards prohibit the use of GE ingredients. And while there are no strict safety evaluations necessary for the approval of GE foods, as there are for drugs, one can only wonder what the long-term health and environmental consequences are of genetically engineered food…
If you’d like to sign the petition or learn more, check out the campaign website, justlabelit.org.