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Products containing genetically modified (GMO) ingredients would be labelled “natural” under a plan proposed by a food and beverage industry trade association.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association has sent the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a letter that states it will ask for a regulation that would allow the natural label on foods with genetically modified ingredients. The association represents some of the biggest food manufacturers in the United States.
A copy of the letter was leaked to The New York Times by the Environmental Working Group, an environmental organization. The FDA is reportedly working on voluntary guidelines for the labeling of foods with ingredients created through genetic engineering and biotechnology.
“It’s like they’re trying to get the government to say night is day and black is white,” the Working Group’s vice president, Scott Faber, told The Times. Faber’s organization wants products that contain GMO ingredients to be labelled as such.
Natural food battle heats up
It isn’t clear what action the FDA would take about the association’s request. An association spokesman said that nobody from his group was available for comment because of holiday travel.
The battle over natural foods and GMO ingredients is heating up and beginning to cost Big Food some big money. News stories indicate that big corporations are facing heat because of their labeling of some products as natural. Recent skirmishes in the GMO battle include:
- PepsiCo paid $9 million to settle a lawsuit that challenged the phrases All Natural, All Natural Fruit and Non-GMO on Naked Juice labels in August. The juice was found to contain genetically engineered ingredients. Naked juice products are still labelled non-GMO even though they are not certified non-GMO.
- There are at least 65 other class-action lawsuits directed against companies that labelled foods containing GMO as natural, The New York Times reported. Other companies targeted include Chobani and Kellogg’s.
- Legislation requiring food labelling to mention GMO ingredients has been introduced in 26 state legislatures.
- Connecticut’s state legislature has passed a law requiring the labeling of GMO foods. The state’s governor signed the bill into law in December, although it won’t go into effect until other Northeastern states pass similar laws.
- Whole Foods Market has announced that it will stop selling Chobani products because the Greek yogurt maker uses GMO ingredients. Whole Foods has plans to label all of the GMO products in its stores by 2018.
- Sales of natural foods are growing faster than other kinds of foods, The Times reported.News reports indicate that new Whole Foods stores in conservative cities like Boise, Idaho have been very successful. The chain has plans to expand to 1,000 stores in the next few years.
It looks like the campaign against GMO foods is picking up. The food industry is now so scared of being forced to reveal what’s in its products that it is turning to the FDA for help.
How to protect your family from GMO
The FDA does not require manufacturers to state whether products contain GMO ingredients or not. To make worse, most of the corn, soybeans, canola oil, cottonseed oil and sugar beets grown in the United States and Canada are genetically engineered.
Here are a few tips for keeping GMO products out of your family kitchen:
- Buy products verified by the Non-GMO Project. The Project tests products to make sure that they don’t contain genetically engineered ingredients. The project’s website contains a list of products that have been certified as non-GMO.
- Buy products labeled USDA Organic, although do research on the USDA’s labeling. Only labels that say “100 percent organic” are fully organic.
- Try to grow as much of your food as possible or buy it from local organic growers.
- Shop at retailers like Whole Foods that have expressed a commitment to stocking non-GMO foods.