An advocacy group of 300 companies, organizations and physicians has asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to assert its regulatory power over genetically altered food, asking that these products be identified through labels.
Just Label It! submitted a legal petition to the FDA last month asking that it require food manufacturers to label products that have been genetically altered. The group says it speaks on behalf of concerned consumers, citing a 2010 Thomson Reuters survey that said 93 percent of Americans support mandatory labeling for genetically altered food.
Advocates say it's a matter of transparency, arguing that consumers have the right to know what's in their food. Opponents – particularly those within the biotechnology industry – contend that scientific research shows genetically altered food does not pose the type of safety concerns that would require specific labeling.
Though Just Label It! says it expects the FDA to open up a consumer comment period for the proposed regulation, FDA regulators maintain the agency's position is that genetically altered food is not harmful.
"[The FDA] has not found that foods from genetically engineered organisms, as a class, present different or greater safety concerns than their conventional counterparts," said agency spokesperson Tamara Ward, according to USA Today.
If the FDA were to adopt such a rule, food manufacturers may have to undergo the costly and cumbersome process of updating their systems to adhere to label compliance guidelines. However, with the right kind of software and tools in place, they may be able to avoid the time- and money-sapping experience of overhauling their label making systems to conform to new FDA regulations.