In February of 2015, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) reintroduced The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act. The act would require the US Food and Drug Administration to label GE food and foods containing GE ingredients.
“Consumers have a right to know what is in the foods they eat and parents have a right to know what they are feeding their families,” Boxer says.
“We cannot continue to keep Americans in the dark about the food they eat,” DeFazio says. “More than sixty other countries make it easy for consumers to choose. Why should the US be any different?”
“The public wants more information about the food they are buying and how it’s grown,” says Chef Tom Colicchio, who joined advocates from Just Label It, Food Policy Action, Environmental Working Group and Center for Food Safety and lawmakers at a press conference announcing the bill. “I applaud Sens. Boxer and Blumenthal and Rep. DeFazio for their leadership and urge their colleagues to join them in standing up for the 93 percent of Americans who want to know whether their food has been genetically modified.”
The FDA stated in 1992 that there was not sufficient evidence to conclude that any meaningful or uniform difference between bioengineered food and foods developed by traditional plant breeding existed and that the bioengineered foods presented any greater safety concern.
The FDA currently supports voluntary labeling in which food manufacturers indicate whether their products have or have not been developed through genetic engineering, “provided such labeling is truthful and not misleading.”
According to surveys, more than 90 percent of Americans support the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. In fact, many consumers are surprised to learn that GE foods are not already labeled. Also, 64 countries around the world already require the labeling of GE foods, including all the member nations of the European Union, Russia, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand.
Millions of Americans have filed comments with the FDA urging the agency to label GE foods, underscoring that today’s consumers – who are used to reading labels to see if foods contain MSG, gluten, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup or aspartame – clearly want more information when making decisions for their families.
The legislation would require clear labels for genetically engineered foods intended for human consumption, including whole foods, processed foods, seafood and animal-based foods to provide consumers with material information about their food and prevent consumer confusion. Under the bill, if a food has been genetically engineered, it would be identified as a GE food in the ingredients list. Any product that has been genetically engineered would also not be allowed to identify itself with a “natural” label.