The nonprofit Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed suit last week calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require labeling for and conduct mandatory reviews of genetically engineered foods to be sold in the United States. Many environmental and consumer advocates fear that genetically engineered (GE) foods can harm human and ecosystem health, and as such have been lobbying Congress for years to pass more stringent regulations governing what has become the fastest growing sector of agriculture.
“We think the FDA should be the gatekeeper and should require … a mandatory process that has rigorous science behind it and public involvement and an actual approval process,” says Joseph Mendelson, legal director for CFS. “And we’re asking that once these products are on the market that they be labeled.”
CFS’ main complaint is that with science knowing so little about the potential effects of growing and consuming GE crops, the federal government should in the least be more rigorous about testing and identifying such products so that consumers can at least make up their own minds. Currently the U.S. is the world leader in production of GE soybeans, corn and canola, among other crops.
“There has been a conscious effort on the part of the FDA and the administration not to create any kind of regulatory burden for agricultural biotechnology,” adds Mendelson. “They view this purely as an issue of economics rather than of human health.”
FDA has no immediate comment on the pending lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The suit could take months if not years to wind its way through the legal system, during which time CFS and other groups will be working tirelessly on other fronts to convince lawmakers and the public to watch what they eat a little bit more carefully.
To read more about genetically engineered foods, see emagazine.com/view/?382.