A proposed U.S. position on food labeling could create problems for producers wishing to identify items as GMO-free. That's according to Consumer Reports publisher Consumer Union and more than 80 farmer, public health, environmental and organic food organizations who expressed their concern in a letter sent last month to the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The group takes specific issue with a U.S. draft position paper that states that mandatory labeling of GM foods “is likely to create the impression that the labeled food is in some way different” and would therefore be “false, misleading or deceptive.”
Consumer Union, the Organic Trade Organization and others who signed the letter contend that referring to GM labeling as “false, misleading and deceptive” contradicts the rationale that allows for voluntary labeling of GM foods in the U.S.
“A voluntary label that says non-GE would be illegal by that reasoning, even though current regulations permit it,” Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumer Union, told SN.
The U.S. position was taken in response to a Codex document stating that countries can adopt different approaches to the labeling of GE foods. Codex is a United Nations agency that develops food safety and labeling standards which are used to settle disputes at the World Trade Organization. The Codex Committee on Food Labeling met in Quebec City to discuss the issue earlier this month.