Genetically modified foods are a recent technology and are already in many commercial foods Americans consume today. While they may have benefits, these genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have not been studied rigorously enough in their potential human health impacts. Therefore, it should be the consumer's right to know whether the food they choose to purchase contains all or partly genetically modified organisms as ingredients.
Although certified Organic foods are labeled as such and contain no GMOs, the consumer does not know whether they are buying genetically modified foods when they can't or choose not to buy Organic.
Petition to require food companies to label their foods according to their contents in terms of containing genetically modified organisms.
Response to Petition
In recent years, Americans have expressed more interest in understanding how their food is produced -- including whether it was produced using genetic engineering.
This Administration is well aware of that interest, and we take it very seriously.
That's why, for this petition response, we reached out to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) -- the agency that's responsible for ensuring the safety and security of the majority of the nation's food supply. They're working on the issue of genetically modified foods, and gave us a few updates on that front.
Right now, food manufacturers can put labels on their foods indicating whether they've been developed through genetic engineering. These voluntary labels must be truthful and accurate, and the FDA issued draft guidance to the food-manufacturing industry about what those labels should look like.
The FDA has also received two Citizen Petitions about the labeling of genetically engineered foods. It's in the process of reviewing those petitions and considering the issues presented. Once the agency reaches a decision in those filings, we will be sure to let you know in a follow-on update message. You can learn more about FDA's Citizen Petitions and the process through which they're submitted here.
In addition, through the USDA's National Organic Program, consumers can identify food that was produced without any genetically engineered ingredients. Whenever you see the USDA Organic seal (which looks like this), it means that the food was grown without the use of prohibited pesticides, genetically modified organisms, synthetic fertilizers, or irradiation.
And just this month, the White House issued a memorandum directing the FDA, the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to improve the transparency, predictability, coordination, and efficiency of the biotechnology regulatory system while continuing to ensure the safety of the products of biotechnology. Learn more about the specifics of that memo here.
One last thing: This response is just the latest part of an ongoing conversation about how our food is produced. Stay tuned.
We'll be back in touch with more updates soon.
Follow @WeThePeople on Twitter all day long for a series of Q+As with various Administration officials on the petition responses we released today.