July 16, 2018

Center for Food Safety Tells FDA GE is Not Natural

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) is asking the FDA to tell the Northern District Court of California they will not define the marketing label “natural”. CFS says that complying with the Court request would violate federal law. The FDA needs to define the label through the Administrative Procedure Act rule-making process.

GMO TomatoThe court case that spurred the request is about ingredients in products that are produced using genetically engineered seed. The case is about foods grown from GE or GMO seeds being labeled “natural”, “all natural” or “100% natural”.

Defining the term “natural” is controversial. In 1993 the agency issued guidance saying that the only ingredients not allowed in a food labeled “natural” are added colors, synthetic substances, and flavors. The FDA does not have a formal definition of “natural” and hasn’t issued a final rule. An FDA official said that defining the term isn’t a high priority because the agency is “not sure how high of an issue it is for consumers.”

The letter states that the public has the right to know where their food comes from and how it is produced through accurate labeling. The natural designation has prompted court cases over high fructose corn syrup and other ingredients.

Center for Food Safety says that products of genetic engineering are not natural, which is defined in Black’s Law Dictionary as “something that is in accord with the regular course of things in the universe and without accidental or purposeful interference.” Genetic engineering involves the insertion, by artificial means, of a vector or foreign gene into DNA without regard for species boundaries.

The potential risks of GE foods are food allergies, since most GE foods contain new proteins that have not been part of the human diet or are new to the food being engineered. The number of allergy-related emergency room visits doubled from 1997 to 2002, when GE crops were introduced. GE organisms also contain plant toxins and genes to make plants tolerant of pesticides. The only studies of GMO foods have been conducted by the GMO companies, and those studies have been short term. In the 1990s, new GE foods were supposed to be tested with animal feeding trials and genotoxicity assays. Those recommendations have been ignored, and GE testing only has a voluntary consultation process.

Finally, the letter states that since GE foods can be patented, they are not natural. To be patentable, a GE food must be new and novel. The Roundup Ready soybean from Monsanto has a chimeric gene that lets the plant survive glyphosate. And plants containing genes form the Bt soil bacteria produce insecticides in their tissues.

CFS concludes by stating “the FDA should reject the Court’s request to define ‘natural’ for use on food labeling. 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. FDA should refrain from defining ‘natural’ in an ad hoc and haphazard manner without first providing to the public notice of the proposed rule-making and an opportunity to comment on those important issues.”

 

Comments

  1. People are being used as lab rats to blind test GE foods in the US. Blind, because they are not truthfully labeled. And if we complain that they make us sick, we are ignored. We can’t ‘prove’ it because we can’t prove we ever ate them, since they are not labeled. Sweet deal for the biotech bullies. We do care very much about natural foods and many of us much prefer them. However, we also know that the ‘Natural’ label on food products don’t mean a thing. It’s whatever the food companies want us to believe, not what the products actually are. We are not too trusting anymore, because we have been misled too many times. If companies and corporations want to tell us their side we might listen, and take it with a grain of salt. They can’t fool all of the people all of the time, and the truth does have a way of coming out, whether they want it to, or not.

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