Food labels should contain GMO warnings, consumers group says

 

A consumer group is criticizing the Obama administration for not requiring food manufacturers to notify consumers when they buy products that were made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month proposed the first overhaul of nutritional labels on food packages in 20 years, but the Organic Consumers Association says the rules do not go far enough to protect consumers from GMOs.

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Nutrition labels should also warn consumers when the foods they buy have been produced with genetically modified organisms, the group argues.

“Conspicuously absent from the media hype was any mention of the one label that consumers have been crystal clear about wanting, the label that consumers in nearly 60 other countries have but Americans don't — a label that states whether or not a product contains genetically modified organisms,” the Organic Consumers Association wrote.

Michelle Obama has been a big supporter of the food labeling rule, but the groups criticized the first lady for not doing enough to protect consumers from GMOs.

“Changes to nutrition labels are long overdue, and it's great that Mrs. Obama is leading the charge to force food manufacturers to provide more accurate information about their products,” Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association said in a statement. “But if Mrs. Obama is truly concerned about truth and transparency in labeling, if she really wants to have an impact on the health of our children, she will stand up for consumers, and against industry lobbyists, by insisting that President Obama live up to his campaign promise to label GMOs.”

They point to a campaign promise that President Obama made in 2007, when he said, “We'll let folks know if their food has been genetically modified, because Americans should know what they're buying.”

“He has not honored that campaign promise,” the Organic Consumers Association wrote.

The food industry has also called for voluntary GMO labeling, but the Organic Consumers Association says the rule should be mandatory.

The FDA's food labeling rules would change the serving sizes for 27 of the 157 food categories.

For example, the serving sizes for soda and ice cream would change. The current serving size for ice cream is a half cup, but FDA officials say most people eat a full cup of ice cream, so it will base the recommendations on that.

The serving size for yogurt will decrease from eight ounces to six ounces, as will the daily sodium value from 2,400 milligrams to 2,300 milligrams. 

The FDA estimates that the new rule would cost about $2 billion, but reap benefits of more than $20 billion over the next few decades.