Dianne Feinstein Demands GMO Labeling

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is urging the Obama administration to mandate the labeling of genetically modified foods and ingredients.  In a letter to the president, Feinstein requested a reevaluation of the Food and Drug Administration's labeling policy for genetically engineered food products.

The food labeling fight has been dragging on for years. Although there is popular support behind adding labels to food made with genetically modified ingredients, it has thus far been voted down in every state that has added the issue to their ballots -- even in California.
 
Feinstein wrote: "It is my strong opinion that consumers have the right to know whether their food originates from genetically modified organisms.  Your administration should re-evaluate the Food and Drug Administration's outdated policy that genetically engineered food does not need to disclose this fact on required labels."
 
Full text of the letter follows:
 
December 19, 2013
 
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C., 20001 
 
Dear President Obama,
 
I am writing today to urge you to take administrative action to require the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods and ingredients.  It is my strong opinion that consumers have the right to know whether their food originates from genetically modified organisms.  Your administration should re-evaluate the Food & Drug Administration's outdated policy that genetically engineered food does not need to disclose this fact on required labels. 

It is my view that the FDA does have the authority to require labeling for genetically engineered food products.  The Food, Drug, & Cosmetic Act (FD&C) prohibits the misbranding of food articles, which includes if a label is "misleading."  The FD&C defines misleading to include a failure to "reveal facts material" about a food product.  The FDA has interpreted these provisions in a 1992 statement of policy such that the fact of whether a food product is genetically engineered is not necessarily a material fact that must be provided to consumers. 
 
Since 1992, the number and type of genetically engineered foods has vastly changed, including the pending application of the first genetically engineered animal, AquaAdvatage Salmon.  It is also clear that consumer interest in whether their food is genetically engineered has increased dramatically, as a poll conducted by the New York Times in July found that 93% of Americans favor GE labeling.  Given these facts, I believe that genetic engineering is clearly of material importance to American consumers, and thus the outdated policy position the FDA took over 21 years ago on labeling should be revised. 
 
Please act in the best interest of American consumers and use your authority to require labeling of genetically engineered foods.  Thank you for your time and consideration of my views.  Please do not hesitate to contact me.
 
Sincerely,
 
Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

About the Author

Katherine's role as the Living editor at KCET.org keeps her running from farms to markets to restaurants to pop-up swaps all over SoCal. She's been living in and writing about this area for over a decade.
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