GROUP SUES FDA ON GENETIC LABELING

WASHINGTON (FNS) -- A group opposed to genetically altered food being sold without warning labels has filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration to require such notification.The Alliance for Bio-Integrity, comprised of religious, consumer and health groups, claims that a food with altered genes could cause allergic reactions or become toxic. It is also concerned that any animal genes

WASHINGTON (FNS) -- A group opposed to genetically altered food being sold without warning labels has filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration to require such notification.

The Alliance for Bio-Integrity, comprised of religious, consumer and health groups, claims that a food with altered genes could cause allergic reactions or become toxic. It is also concerned that any animal genes might make their way into produce, thus making it possible for vegetarians to indirectly eat meat without their knowledge.

Food is genetically engineered for various reasons and the technique has become increasingly common in fresh and processed food. In animals, genetic mutations are created to reduce disease and otherwise improve health or increase weight. For produce, genetic changes have been made to increase crop yield, reduce disease and improve nutrition.

Bio-engineered food requires FDA approval, although this approval is based on analysis of a company's own tests. The lawsuit also seeks to force the agency to conduct its own tests.

The FDA doesn't require genetically engineered food to be labeled as such. Since the agency has deemed the process to be safe, officials decided that a label would only confuse consumers. However, if a company wants to voluntarily label a food genetically engineered, the FDA permits the practice and some produce companies have chosen to label.