Advocates for Genetically Engineered Food Labeling Gain Momentum
By Claire J. Mitchell
Stoel Rives attorney Claire Mitchell discusses in a Law360 article recent efforts by consumer groups and members of Congress to convince the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to change its labeling policy regarding genetically engineered (GE) foods. Nearly two decades ago, the FDA concluded that GE foods do not differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way, and thus would not be subject to special labeling requirements.
Mitchell describes how on March 12, 2012, 55 members of Congress sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg urging the agency to require the labeling of genetically engineered foods. The letter supported a legal petition to the FDA filed by the Center for Food Safety (CFS), which includes nearly 400 signatories, including health, consumer, environmental, farming and food organizations and businesses. Since CFS filed its petition in October 2011, the public has submitted over 850,000 comments in support of labeling.
Mitchell notes several states have already begun to consider bills that would either impose GE labeling requirements or ban GE foods altogether, including California, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont and Washington. In addition, nearly 50 countries, including European Union member states, Japan and other major U.S. trading partners, currently have GE labeling laws in place.
Accordingly, Mitchell urges food companies to pay careful attention to the changing state of the law surrounding GE food labeling, and ensure their product labels remain in full compliance.
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"A Call for Labeling Genetically Engineered Foods" was published by Law 360, April 12, 2012.