Groups Cheer Proposed GE Food Act

Organizations in favor of labeling foods made with genetically engineered (GE) ingredients have expressed their approval of federal legislation introduced this week by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) that would require food manufacturers to inform consumers when packaged food contains such ingredients.

The proposed bipartisan legislation is known as the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act.

“Americans want to know more, not less, about their food,” said Katey Parker of the national Just Label It coalition, which comprises 650 partner organizations. “More than 90 percent of Americans want the same rights as consumers in 64 countries around the world. It’s time to trust American consumers with information about genetically engineered ingredients so they can make the best choices for their families.”

Environmental Working Group (EWG) was similarly pleased by the proposed legislation. “EWG has been fighting on behalf of consumers for decades -- we know that consumers want more information, not less, about the food they eat,” noted EWG VP of Government Affairs Scott Faber.

According to both groups, more than 1 million Americans have petitioned FDA to require labeling on packaged food containing GE ingredients, which are also known as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

In related news, Natural Food Certifiers (NFC), the first rabbinic-led kosher agency to certify organic products under the USDA National Organic Program, said that its “Apple K” kosher certification program wouldn’t accept applications for NFC Kosher-certified products with genetically modified organisms.

According to Rabbi Reuven Flamer, director of Spring Valley, N.Y.-based NFC, the move is “a logical application of our principle ‘Start Naturally. Stay that Way.’ Therefore, the Natural Apple K cannot be placed on a product that contains GMOs.”

Flamer added that although, “according to the strict letter of kosher food law, a GMO food ingredient is not prohibited … GMOs are the No. 1 growing concern among health-conscious consumers and for businesses in the natural and organic food market, as well as in the conventional food industry.”

The Apple K program will phase out over the next 12 months any existing products that contain GMO ingredients and no longer accept new applications from products with GMOs. NFC also recently introduced a GMO product verification program called “GMO Guard.”

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