FDA Banning Food Makers from Telling the Truth about GMO Content
by Tony Isaacs
In case anyone had any doubts about who the FDA really serves, the latest news should prove once and for all whose side they are on - and it isn't yours or mine. The Washington Post has reported that in addition to approving genetically modified "Frankenfish" salmon without requiring a GMO label, the FDA will also be banning the inclusion of any references to lack of genetically modified content on food items which are GMO- free.
The FDA, which has been under intense pressure from GM interests to approve the modified salmon without requiring any labeling, stated that it could not require a label on the salmon because the agency determined that the altered fish is not "materially different” from other salmon. Apparently, the agency is using even the same, and even flimsier, justifications to force food companies to hide the truth if their products are GM/GMO free – much to the delight of the multi-billion GM industries.
We should have seen such an outrageous decision coming, given the FDA’s past record and continued turn away from protecting consumers health in favor of industry profits from drug and food companies who are obviously its true clients and masters.
In 1994 the agency warned the dairy industry that it could not use "Hormone Free" labeling on milk from cows that are not given engineered hormones, because all milk contains some hormones.
The FDA told a canola oil maker that it could not use a label that included a red circle with a line through it and the words "GMO," saying the symbol suggested that there was something wrong with genetically engineered food.
It has also recently sent a flurry of enforcement letters to food makers telling them they could not use phrases such as "GMO-free" on their labels, including a food maker which produces an all fruit strawberry spread. In the case of the strawberry spread, the FDA reasoned that the label would be incorrect because GMO refers to genetically modified organisms and strawberries are produce, not organisms.
"This to me raises questions about whose interest the FDA is protecting," House Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) told the Washington Post. Kucinich has repeatedly introduced bills in the House that would require the labeling of genetically modified food but has been unable to overcome the money and influence of the GMO lobbies and companies.
The FDA’s actions come at a time when consumers increasingly want to know the content of their foods. In fact, polls consistently show that more than 80% of Americans want genetically engineered foods to be labeled. It also comes at a time when more and more studies are demonstrating the health and environmental dangers of GMO foods.
"The public wants to know and the public has a right to know," New York University nutrition professor Marion Nestle told the Post. "I think the agency has discretion, but it's under enormous political pressure to approve [the salmon] without labeling."
Not surprisingly, the GMO industry agrees wholeheartedly with the FDA. As one director of animal biotechnology said, “Extra labeling only confuses the consumer. ... It differentiates products that are not different (and) makes it harder for consumers to make their choices."
In other words, make it easier for consumers to make choices by giving them no choices. Forget about health dangers, our right to know, or the constitutional rights to free speech (which the Supreme Court has ruled includes commercial free speech in decisions against the FDA). The FDA simply wants to protect us poor consumers from being confused.