“The outdated policy position the FDA took on genetically engineered food over 24 years ago should be revised.”
– Senator Dianne Feinstein
Labeling of all genetically engineered food is a commonsense precautionary measure in the face of scientific uncertainty. The Biotechnology Food Labeling and Uniformity Act introduced by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, would require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food. It has been referred to the Senate H.E.L.P. Committee, which oversees the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
There is no scientific consensus on GMO safety; in fact, the American Medical Association adopted new policy in 2012 recommending the U.S. government require safety testing of of all GMO food before it is marketed. Furthermore, the unintended effects of genetic engineering documented in the scientific literature are not disputable.
Proving that genetically engineered food is harmful is not necessary in order to require mandatory labeling. As Senator Dianne Feinstein stated in her letter to President Obama requesting executive action to label GMO food, the U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C) prohibits the misbranding of food articles, which includes if a label is “misleading.” The FD&C defines misleading to include a failure to “reveal facts material” about a food product. Whether their food is genetically engineered is clearly of material importance to American consumers: a New York Times poll conducted in 2013 found that 93% of Americans favor GMO labeling.
Senator Merkley’s bill won’t pass in a vacuum. The democratic process requires an involved citizenry. What this means is that members of the Senate HELP Committee and your U.S. representatives must hear from you. If, in the words of former President Jimmy Carter, America is no longer a “functional democracy,” then it is only because its citizens have not been functioning Americans.