The Center for Food Safety has called on the FDA to not let GMO foods carry the “natural” label. The Grocery Manufacturer’s Association has announced it would submit a petition to the government to define the term “natural” to include foods produced using genetic engineering. CFS is asking that the FDA exclude genetic engineering from any definition of “natural” and to not make any decisions without public input.
Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs to Center for Food Safety said in a statement, “there is nothing natural about genetic engineering, which is exactly why the Grocery Manufacturers Association wants FDA to create a special exemption for it. Natural is a great marketing tool and the industry doesn’t want to be restricted in using it.”
Genetic engineering is not a natural process, but an artificial one. Foreign genetic material is inserted into the DNA of a plant or animal. Many patents have been granted on this process, finding that they are “novel”, not naturally occurring. And FDA policy states that labels cannot be false or misleading.
There is no legal definition of the term “natural”, except for food color, synthetic substances, and flavors. FDA has not defined the term.
CFS wrote in its letter that “genetic engineering makes silent but fundamental changes to our food at the molecular and cellular level, the full human health and environmental consequences of which are still being discovered. These changes fundamentally affect consumers, food manufacturers, and the public at large. Because of this and the growing consumer concern over GE foods, FDA should refrain from defining “natural” in an ad hoc and haphazard manner without first providing to the public notice of the proposed rulemaking and an opportunity to comment on these important issues.”