U.S. food makers seek federal standard for GMO labeling
Biotech crops currently on the market include corn, soybeans, canola, and sugar beets that have been genetically altered to repel pests or tolerate direct spraying of herbicides. Those crops are used in a vast array of food products and the companies that develop them say the crops are safe. Many scientific studies back those claims.
But there are also studies showing links to human and animal health problems, and environmental damage. Last October, an international coalition of scientists declared there still was no consensus in the global scientific community about the safety of genetically modified crops, which were first commercialized in 1996.
The GMA is also pushing the FDA to develop a federal definition of the term "natural" on food packaging, and to authorize foods containing biotech ingredients to be labeled as natural.
"Consumers deserve to understand what that word natural means on a package," Finkel said.
Finkel said he had no criticism of a recent move by General Mills to declare its original Cheerios breakfast cereal to be GMO-free and that it was merely a "marketplace decision."
Critics of GMO crops said the proposed legislation was aimed at misleading consumers and covering up concerns about biotech crops.
"Concerned citizens want mandatory labeling of GMOs and don't want natural foods containing GMOs to be labeled as natural," said Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association. "I doubt seriously that they can get this through."