|Incidentally, the FDA is being told to define 'natural'|
A recent bill passed by the US Congress is shaping up to be a major food fight - officially titled “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act”, it’s derided as the “Denying Americans the Right to Know” Act by its opponents. And it doesn’t help that the media continue to parrot the line that it’s a bill designed to block labeling:
- U.S. bill seeks to block mandatory GMO food labeling by states - Reuters
- House To States: Don’t You Dare Demand GMO Labels - NPR
These are headlines from the more reputable sources, but there are numerous others. In this modern age of transparency - we can verify the account by reading the actual bill itself, nicely archived at the Library of Congress. And from the summary, it clearly writes out:
The FDA must allow, but not require, GMO food to be labeled as GMO.
The bill not only does not block, it provides specific language permitting labeling of GMO food. In addition, it provides guidelines for requiring specific labeling:
If the FDA determines that there is a material difference between a GMO food and a comparable non-GMO food, the FDA can specify labeling that informs consumers of the difference.
GMO food labeling advocates should be celebrating - the Federal government has provided them a mechanism to compel the FDA to require GMO labeling. It is a reasonable process that enacts a common standard superseding the patchwork of legislation going through the states. They just have to provide proof of material difference. Ah, but that burden of proof has never been the purview of the antiscience fringe. Take, for example, the recent involvement of Hollywood celebrity Fran Drescher in demanding GMO labeling based on the predictions of her husband, Shiva Ayyadurai that GMO soy has higher levels of formaldehyde. Scientist Kevin Folta has offered an open collaboration, inviting Ayyadurai to be a co investigator in verifying this prediction by actually measuring formaldehyde. Folta has even offered to foot the material costs of the experiments - quite a generous offer - in addition to authorship in the paper. Ayyudarai and Drescher have thus far largely ignored Folta to continue the media flogging.
In the end - I find fault with the media. Our journalists should be held to a higher standard. The bill isn't some kind of obstinate refusal to label - it provides a process, and a standard, to approach the label. And in this case, the government has provided the transparency, but the desire to fabricate a fight is how the actual language gets concealed.