An American pressure group has filed a legal petition with the US Food and Drug Administration to demand that all food produced using genetic engineering is labelled in the USA.
It appears part of a concerted effort by the country’s pro-organic groups to force the government to label genetically-engineered food.
The petition has been issued on behalf of the “Just Label It” campaign by the Center for Food Safety, while a second pro-organic group, Right2Know, is marching 313 miles from the United Nations to Washington to push the issue onto the political agenda.
GE foods are not labelled currently, as the FDA ruled in 1992 that it was not “materially” different and thus did not need to be labelled. Under the policy, GE food would need to either taste, smell or look different for it to need to be labelled.
“The policy uses 19th century rationale for a 21st century issue,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety. “It is long overdue that the FDA acknowledges the myriad reasons why genetically-engineered foods should be labelled.”
The petition alleges the absence of labelling for GE foods is misleading for consumers because genetic engineering results in changes at a molecular level that doesn’t occur in traditional varieties. Labelling, it says, is necessary to prevent economic fraud and to protect consumers who think the absence of labelling means the food is GM free.
The Center for Food Safety has filed several lawsuits in recent years, which have successfully delayed or stopped approvals of some GM crops.
Veteran GMO campaigners including Joseph Wilhelm, president of Rapunzel, and Indian activist Vanadana Shiva are said to be joining the Right2Know march.
Both marched across Europe for controls on GMOs and supported GMO labeling, which is required in the EU.