National Just Label It Coalition Urges FDA to Use 21st Century Science – Not the Five Senses – To Drive GMO Food Policy
Washington, D.C. (May 29th, 2012) — Twenty years ago this week, Vice President Dan Quayle announced a new FDA policy that promised to speed up the approval of genetically engineered (GE) foods, relieve them of unnecessary regulation, and “not compromise safety one bit.”*
Despite two decades of scientific advances, and unprecedented initiatives like the record-breaking Just Label It campaign for GMO labeling, the outdated policy remains in place today.
“From the beginning of the Just Label It campaign, we’ve stressed that the FDA must bring its internal guidance up to date with current technology,” said Just Label it chairman Gary Hirshberg, the chairman of Stonyfield, the world’s leading organic yogurt company. “If I ran my company with practices developed over 20 years ago, I’d be out of business. Since 1992, food production in the US has been dramatically altered by new technology and processes, and it’s time that the FDA aligned its standards with the 21st century.”
GMO History 101: FDA Declares GMOs “Equivalent” to Regular Food
The 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which authorized the FDA to oversee the safety of food, drugs, and cosmetics, requires the FDA to prevent consumer deception by clarifying that a food label is misleading if it omits significant “material” information.
In 1992, the FDA’s policy statement defined “material” as the ability to be sensed by sight, taste, or other senses, i.e., if you couldn’t see, smell or taste a difference, then it wasn’t different. The FDA said GE foods were “substantially equivalent” to conventionally produced foods, so there was no material difference – and no labeling was required.
“Genetically engineered crops have become a part of our food supply with blinding speed,” said Hirshberg, who noted that 90% of the corn, and over 90% of the soy and cotton in the US is already GE. “While the chemical companies have been reiterating Dan Quayle’s promises of safety, the reality is that the use of these GE crops has resulted in the increased use of hundreds of millions of pounds of insecticides and pesticides. Consumers need the right to know if their foods have been genetically engineered so they can choose whether or not to support these practices and make informed decisions about the food they eat and feed their families.”