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FDA Objects to Food Labeling Initiative
(from October 9, 2002)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration objects to Oregon's ballot Measure 27, which would require labeling to identify genetically modified foods sold in Oregon. If Measure 27 passes, Oregon would become the first state to mandate labeling on genetically modified foods.

Oregon's Measure 27 has drawn stiff opposition from the agriculture, food processing and biotechnology industries.

In an Oct. 4 letter to Gov. John Kitzhaber, FDA Deputy Commissioner Lester M. Crawford argued that labeling of genetically modified foods is not only unnecessary, but contrary to FDA guidelines.

Crawford commented, "mandatory labeling to disclose that a product was produced through genetic engineering does not promote the public health in that it fails to provide material facts concerning the safety or nutritional aspects of food and may be misleading to consumers."

However, scientific studies suggest this is not the case. A study published in Journal of Medicinal Food shows that herbicide resistant soy varieties contain lower levels of beneficial plant estrogens, when compared to non GE soybeans. A 1996 study, published in the International Journal of Heath Services, reported that milk from cows injected with recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), a synthetically produced hormone that makes cows produce more milk, contains increased levels of a growth factor that has been linked to breast and gastrointestinal cancers in humans.

As much as 70 percent of the processed foods consumed in the United States contain some genetically altered ingredient. The FDA does not require special labeling of those foods, though genetically modified foods must meet the same safety standards as their conventionally bred counterparts, the agency says.

Reached late Monday, Crawford said it is not particularly unusual for the FDA to weigh in on a state ballot issue. He was unsure whether the FDA would take any further action beyond the unsolicited letter to Kitzhaber.

A governor's spokesman said Monday that Kitzhaber has not yet taken a position on Measure 27.

It is the goal of Beyond Pesticides, to push for labeling as a means of identifying products that contain genetically engineered ingredients, seek to educate on the public health and environmental consequences of this technology, and generate support for sound ecological-based management systems. This technology should be subject to complete regulatory review, which is currently not the case.

For more Information on genetically engineered foods visit Beyond Pesticides Genetic Engineering web site http://www.beyondpesticides.org/gmos

Source: The Oregonian