WASHINGTON—As special interests continue to push for new state laws to label foods that have been improved through biotechnology—commonly referred to as GMOs—Val Giddings, a senior fellow with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, argued in testimony today before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) adequately addressed this issue in 1992 with a science-based approach that has worked well for 23 years.
With Congress considering whether and how to step in, Giddings noted that FDA rules already require labels to provide information about the health, safety, and nutritional value of foods sold in the United States in a manner that is accurate, informative, and not misleading. Furthermore, a disparate patchwork of state labeling laws with different standards and enforcement measures would lead to considerable confusion among consumers, and the increased production costs for food manufacturers could be passed onto consumers through higher food prices.
“Current FDA policy already requires labels that inform consumers about food that has been changed in any way that would affect people’s health, safety, or nutrition,” Giddings said. “In short, proponents of mandatory labels already have what they claim they want.”
Furthermore, Giddings stated that GMO foods have been shown to be as safe, if not safer than non-GMO foods, which is a central reason why the FDA has chosen not to create specific national labeling requirements for these products.
“Just as scientific and professional bodies around the world have done, the FDA found there is nothing about the processes of bioengineering that necessarily changes the resulting foods in any way related to health, safety, or nutrition,” Giddings explained. “The fact is that hundreds of billions of meals have been eaten by more than a hundred billion livestock animals, and billions of humans, in the two decades these foods have been on the market. There has not been a single case of negative health consequences as a result. It is a record of which the organic industry, for one, should be envious.”
Giddings noted further that the Constitution clearly locates the authority to deal with these matters in Congress, which has delegated that power to the FDA. State action in this area is clearly preempted, and some provisions in the legislation that Congress is considering would be redundant and risk creating far bigger problems than they seek to resolve.
“Consumers shouldn’t be forced to pay more for food because a small group of special interests opposes technological innovation and seeks to ban GMOs,” Giddings noted. “Lawmakers need to ignore the hyperbole and let the FDA do its job.”