FDA Responds to 1.1 Million

After an unprecedented 1.1 million comments delivered to FDA, we’ve had an official response: “…We have not been able to reach a decision on your petition….We hope to be able to complete the review of your petition and respond to your request in the near future.”

Underwhelming? Yes.
Expected? Yes.
Do we leave it at that? Absolutely NO.

But you’ll have to stay tuned for what’s next because today we need to do some RUMOR CONTROL!

Contrary to some internet buzz, the FDA has NOT deleted one million comments. According to FDA spokesperson Siobhan DeLancey , “Comments are always retained as part of the public record…”. In fact, FDA has told JLI that we’ve overwhelmed the twelve staff responsible for uploading public comments.

Then why all the confusion? The reason for public comment is so that the FDA can hear from the American public. That means they actually read the comments. One way they manage the process when they receive large quantities is by bundling similar comments or petitions. Bundling facilitates the process of reading the massive deluge of comments. For instance, DeLancey told JLI, “…comment 395 contains 37,254 identical comments”. So while there may appear to be only hundreds of comments on the FDA site, the reality is all of the names of people who contacted FDA in support of the petition calling for labeling of GMOs either are already uploaded and contained in the comments on the site, or will be by the time the FDA is done uploading them, which they expect to be in the next several weeks.

So to set the record straight:

  • NO COMMENTS have been deleted by FDA
  • FDA has the 1.1 million names and is still uploading them
  • Because FDA bundles similar comments together on the regulations.gov site, when they have completed the upload, you will only see listed hundreds of comments. But the FDA acknowledges that these entries contain ALL of the comments and names that have been submitted.

The bigger question of course is do these one million commenters matter? We can without hesitation tell you an enthusiastic “YES”. We might not have the money of the small minority who oppose labeling, but we have 91% of the American people, and their voices are being heard. We can tell you from our experience in recent months, once we reached half a million people the media and officials in DC started to listen and doors were opened. Senior leaders at the White House, USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the FDA, have all been briefed on the campaign to label GE foods and are following the developments and the number of signatures closely.

The number of people behind the campaign means everything. Stay tuned for next steps…..

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