Saturday, June 02, 2012

Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act

Here's a bill that was introduced in the House of Representatves 6 months ago (not the first time):

HR 3553, 111th Congress
Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act
"To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the Federal Meat Inspection Act, and the Poultry Products Inspection Act to require that food that contains a genetically engineered material, or that is produced with a genetically engineered material, be labeled accordingly."
Congress finds as follows:
(1) The process of genetically engineering foods results in the material change of such foods.
(2) The Congress has previously required that all foods bear labels that reveal material facts to consumers.
(3) Federal agencies have failed to uphold Congressional intent by allowing genetically engineered foods to be marketed, sold and otherwise used without labeling that reveals material facts to the public.
(4) Consumers wish to know whether the food they purchase and consume contains or is produced with a genetically engineered material for a variety of reasons, including the potential transfer of allergens into food and other health risks, concerns about potential environmental risks associated with the genetic engineering of crops, and religiously and ethically based dietary restrictions.
(5) Consumers have a right to know whether the food they purchase contains or was produced with genetically engineered material.
(6) Labels voluntarily placed on foods are insufficient to provide consumers with adequate information on whether or not all the food they are purchasing contains or was produced with genetically engineered material.
(7) Mandatory labeling provides a critical scientific method necessary for the continual postmarket surveillance to study long-term health impacts and enforcement of food safety laws preventing adulterated foods from reaching consumers.
(8) Many of the United States key trading partners, including countries in the European Union, Japan, and the People’s Republic of China, have established, or are in the process of implementing, mandatory labeling requirements for genetically engineered food.
(9) Adoption and implementation of mandatory labeling requirements for genetically engineered food produced in the United States would facilitate international trade by allowing American farmers and companies to export and appropriately market their products--both genetically engineered and non-genetically engineered--to foreign customers.
All of the arguments in defense of labeling are tightly summarized, right here, in a Bill written by Congress and endorsed by several of its members. Health risks, environmental risks, religious and ethical considerations, post-market surveillance (how can we track health issues if we don't know what someone ate?), international trade markets - it's all here. What do you think the hold-up is?
I believe the label is from a product sold in Europe.


Anonymous said...

Hey Bix, great blog! Good news!


Excerpt: “Tracking the millions of people with vulnerable immune systems and their reaction to novel proteins and virus fragments in genetically engineered food is impossible without food labeling,” warns Dr. Martha Herbert, a pediatric neurologist and past vice-chair of the Council on Responsible Genetics. [6]

Bix said...

The AMA? How about that.

I agree with the part about novel proteins.

Claudia said...

I'll tell you what the hold up is. There are 25 cosponsors, 24 democrats and 1 republican. The repubs all have monsanto in their stock portfolios.

Bix said...

Interesting. That one Republican who supported labeling is from Alaska, where they already passed legislation to label genetically engineered fish in 2005 ... because it competes with their local salmon business. From an old post:

One place that did pass a law requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food, specifically fish, was Alaska. And the vote was unanimous. Republicans, Democrats, everyone. Why?

"This bill helps highlight Alaska seafood as distinct from genetically modified seafood, doing away with any vagueness that may exist to the consumer when purchasing seafood without labeling, and reinforcing the natural message."

Alaska was protecting their seafood industry.

Not that Biotech didn't try to thwart it. In their testimony opposing the Alaska bill, they said:

"State-based labeling requirements that differ from previously established, stringently enforced federal guidelines, provide no value for consumers and only serve to disparage biotechnology foods."

Biotech's defense was, and is, that since FDA doesn't require labels, states shouldn't either. Why doesn't FDA require labels? Because the FDA, in their own words, "is not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way."

According to the sponsors of the Alaska bill (passed in 2005), legislation requiring labeling of genetically engineered fish already exists in the European Union, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.

Haley McAdams said...

I think it's a really good news for us consumers. Since most of the manufacturers don't provide all ingredients in their products. It's also a good thing because we can have time to search and know what kind of ingredient is that and if possible we can avoid it or spend more money on buying it.