The FDA Seems Pretty Meh on the Prospect of Actually Labeling Genetically Modified Food
As pink slime walks in shame to the doghouse this week, another important movement that transcends many aspects of the beef and processed-food industries met a milestone. Just Label It, a campaign initiated by Organic Voices, whose aim is to require labels on genetically modified foods, gathered one million signatures for a petition to the FDA. But just after the group authoritatively spiked the ball in the end zone for its terrific feat, the FDA threw up a yellow flag. Tweet.
Turns out the archaic regulations.gov site that counts petitioners only came up with 394 signatures of the supposed one million. Not even close, right? Monica Eng at the Chicago Tribune has the details on the technical snafu, but in short, the FDA said: "If 35,000 people, for instance, sign their name to the same letter it only counts as one person or 'comment.'"
They're trying to work it out, but it's not an easy process.
Regardless, Just Label It filed its initial labeling petition to the FDA to 180 days ago, which was the agency's deadline for a response. Sucking all the hopeful energy right out of the room, the FDA's response was along the lines of "we don't have a response yet." No decision has been made.
What's important to remember about Just Label It's supporters is that they're not asking manufacturers of food or slime to change any of their business practices. They're simply asking the FDA to require food made with genetically modified ingredients be labeled as such. Genetically modified foods have genes, created in a lab, added to them from other sources, like plants and animals that change the characteristics of the food.
For example: Long ago, peach producers learned that consumers don't like a lot of fuzz on their peaches. So they created genetically modified peaches with less fuzz. If you've eaten peaches from a grocery store, you've probably had one. And maybe you liked it. But for many, they'd at least like to know.
The first meat, salmon, to be genetically modified is in under consideration at the FDA now. And if it's on the shelves without a label, there's no way you'll know if you're eating a real salmon or one created in a lab.
Still reading? Just Label It posted an article, "8 Things You Can Do," and it's worth a quick read if you're interested in the issue.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.