NYT – A biotechnology committee formed by the U.S. and the European Union is expected to recommend that the United States toughen its regulation of genetically modified foods.

Consumers, they feel, should have the “right of informed choice,” meaning that genfoods should be labeled so that consumers can avoid them if they want to. Right now the Food and Drug Administration requires nutritional labeling on food, and has requirements for a food to be labeled “organic,” but does not require that genetically engineered foods be identified.

The U.S. and the E.U. established the Biotechnology Consultative Forum in June of 2000. The forum consists of experts from both sides of the Atlantic, and was generally expected to be relatively non-controversial. Margaret Mellon of the Union of Concerned Scientists said, “I’m quite surprised that the U.S. contingent would sign off on it,” referring to the labeling recommendation.

Although the recommendation will put new pressure on the FDA to require this labeling, it would appear unlikely to happen under the new administration. The genfoods industry is strongly opposed to labeling, out of fear that the products would be avoided by American consumers as they are in Europe where labeling is mandatory.

Source: New York Times, Dec. 18, 2000

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