The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) commended the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for rejecting petitions calling on the agency to mandate labeling of foods made with ingredients produced using modern biotechnology.

"The NGFA supports agricultural biotechnology and other scientific advancements that promote a safe, abundant and competitively priced food and feed supply," noted NGFA President Randy Gordon in a statement. "The FDA affirmed today that it relies on science-based decision making and is confident in the safety of GE crops that have been approved under the U.S. regulatory system, and that there is no legal basis for mandating labeling of food or feed containing biotech ingredients that have been found to be as safe or safer than their conventional counterparts."

The FDA denied petitions filed by the Center for Food Safety and the Truth in Labeling Coalition that requested FDA mandate GMO labels on biotech food products.  "The petition does not provide evidence sufficient to show that foods derived from genetically engineered plants, as a class, differ from foods derived from non-GE plant varieties in any meaningful or uniform way, or that as a class, such foods present any different or greater safety concerns than foods developed by traditional plant breeding," noted FDA in its response.

The NGFA particularly commended the agency for rejecting the argument of those urging mandatory GMO labeling that genetically engineered foods are somehow materially different, as a class, than food derived from traditional breeding techniques.  "FDA states correctly, in our view, that the determination of whether labeling should be required should not be depend on the process used to produce a food, without regard to its effect on the food," NGFA said.  "Instead, a material difference designation should be reserved for if and when a biotech-enhanced trait alters the functional, nutritional or compositional characteristics, allergenicity or other attributes of a food or feed, which biotech ingredients, as a class, clearly do not."

The House of Representatives in July, with strong bipartisan support, passed its version of a national standard for food and feed labeling for those who voluntarily wish to label their products as either containing or not containing biotech-enhanced ingredients, a bill the NGFA strongly supported. The focus is now on the Senate.

Lawmakers are considering using the omnibus spending package as a vehicle to preempt states from mandating GMO labels on foods that contain ingredients made through biotechnology. Congress has until Dec. 11 to pass the fiscal 2016 spending bill, while the first state labeling law takes effect in Vermont next July.