FDA's new regulations won't allow non-GMO, GMO-free label

New regulations propose strict guidelines for voluntary labeling of non-GMO productsIn mid-January, the US Food and Drug Administration announced new regulations requiring biotechnology companies to consult with the FDA at least 120 days before marketing new GM foods. Previously, such consultations were voluntary. Biotech companies must provide health safety data about the new GM foods to the FDA, and the agency said it would make this information available on the Internet.

While biotechnology and food industry representatives praised the new regulations, consumer and environmental groups criticized them, saying they didn't go far enough, particularly in terms of labeling GM foods. The FDA rejected consumer demands for labeling.

May take legal action against companies

Notable for companies wanting to advertise products as non-genetically modified is the fact that the FDA says it will not allow labels like "GM-free," "GMO-Free" or "biotech-free." The agency says guaranteeing a product to be free of GM material is virtually impossible. Instead the labels will have to say the food was not produced through bioengineering. The FDA said it may take legal action against companies that violate these guidelines.

Recently, a U.S.-European biotechnology committee had recommended that the U.S. strengthen regulations on GM foods, including labeling. The Consumers Federation of America had also issued a report criticizing the current U.S. regulations. Editorials calling for labeling GM foods have appeared in major U.S. newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, and Des Moines Register in the past year.

Comment on the FDA's new regulations

The FDA's new regulations are open to public comment. The FDA will take comments on the premarket review until April 3, 2001 and the labeling guidelines until March 19. To comment on the new regulations, visit http://www.fda.gov. Scroll down the page to the section titled, "Let us hear from you," then click on the heading "Tell us your views on FDA's proposed regulations." The regulations are found in the following FDA dockets:

  • Docket No. 00N-1396, CFSAN 74. "Premarket Notice Concerning Bioengineered Foods."
  • Docket No. 00D-1598, CFSAN 123. "Draft Guidance for Industry: Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Foods Have or Have Not Been Developed Using Bioengineering; Availability."

You can view these dockets by going to: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/oc/ohrms/index.cfm, and searching for the date-January 18 or by the docket number.You can also call the FDA at 1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332).

© Copyright March 2001, The Organic & Non-GMO Report